Charles Keefer's Blog


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This is an answer to Scott Campbell, one of those people in life who is a friend even though he worked for Joe Lieberman.

Brittish cars. Powered by Lucas, prince of darkness. I remember them well.

I had an MG Midget that died half way between Cocoa and Titusville. When I got back to it, someone had stolen the seat belts. Can you imagine?

I had an MGA. I gave to a kid down the block because it wasn’t worth fixing. It lost it’s timing chain in the middle of Cape Canaveral, the town north of Cocoa Beach where I lived. Astronauts passed my disabled car in their Corvettes. We pushed it down to his house.

I also had an Alfa that was a rain trap. Water simply poured out of the glove box into the passenger seat when it rained. I traded it in and the next day when I went to pick up my new car, the salesman asked me if it leaked. It had rained the previous evening and there was enough water in it to raise salmon.

“Uh, did somebody leave the windows open,” I asked.

Ah, but the Miata. I kept mine for seven years and nothing ever went wrong with it. Nothing.

I now have a Prosche with a system that checks your tire pressure. Guess what was the first thing to go.

And wait till you hear this.

I was coming home from a road trip driving through Port St. Lucie with an 18-wheeler to my left and the thing decided to tell me it was past time for a certified Porsche maintenance.

Every gauge went from zero to red line, then the entire HUD went black. No RPM reading. No MPH reading. Everything went black.

Then it all came on.

It did this three times, then it left me, travelling at 70 mph with the biggest goddamn truck you have ever seen about 4 feet away, without cruise control or instruments.

Do you have any idea how freaked out I was?

I want to meet the guy that thought that if you wipe out all the instruments about three times, it will encourage people to take their car in to the dealer for an incredibly dollar-inflated tune-up.

I want to put him four feet away from a 20-ton truck doing 70 miles an hour and blank his instruments at about midnight when you didn’t know that could even happen.

Are you listening to this, Porsche?

Some 20-year-old shithead with a computer has made you worse that Lucas, Prince of Darkness.

At least, when British cars stopped working, they just stopped. You found the side of the road and then you found a taxi.

My God, you don’t stop the instruments when you are doing 70 and playing with a 20-ton truck


Written by Charles Keefer

October 25, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. You need to get back on your bicycles. I’ve noted an increasingly cranky tone to your posts once you gave up human-powered-vehicles for these expensive gas-driven toys.

    My worst lemon was a 1969 VW Squareback. VW’s answer to the station wagon. I loved that car. Rephrase: I loved the CONCEPT of that car.

    1. When I drove it off the lot, it ran out of gas. They hadn’t only failed to give me the free full tank, they didn’t put ANY gas in it.

    2. The brakes weren’t adjusted right. I was coming back from Columbus, OH, in the middle of the night when I stopped at a red light. The car was Nova, as in Spanish for No Go.

    Turns out the brakes were dragging just enough that you couldn’t feel it, but enough to cause the drums to expand. When I stopped, the car didn’t have enough power to overcome the lock-up.

    3. The fuel line was just a tad too short. We notice the small of gas on our way to Mexico. The service station we stopped at put it on the lift and discovered that the fuel line was a little short, so they reattached it. We then noticed the smell of gas from the other end of the car. Yep, pulling it forward caused it to come loose on the back end.

    4. VW engines then were air-cooled. In the winter, you had a choice: run in the proper gear and freeze because the RPMs were too low to deliver heat or run in a lower gear with higher revs and put up with the sound of an angry bumblebee for hours.

    5. The air vents that were supposed to scoop cooling air through to the engine sucked air out, instead, causing the engine to burn up.

    I sold the car with the engine in a cardboard box.

    Ken Steinhoff

    October 26, 2009 at 9:54 am

  2. Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Chuck’s computerized car seems to be out to kill him. Chuck, have you been writing naughty code again?

    Going back a step, in my original list I neglected to mention my Austin Healy 3000 — the best car I ever owned — and my Fiat X/19 — the worst car ever made. (Ken, I’ve got you beat on this one).

    I’m with Chuck that the Miata was a great car. I had one as well. But I always felt like I was a lesser being imposing on its time. It didn’t really need me. In fact, I had this feeling it could drive to the PBPost on its own, deal with TomO and JBart better than I did and file on time.

    British sports cars, on the other hand, definitely wanted some TLC. Ah, the endless tinkering with those oil-dampened SU carburetors.

    But the one thing I never figured out was this: England is cold and damp almost all the time. Not one of my British cars had anything near an adequate heater/defroster. (The wipers sucked too). My working theory was and remains that the English — not the Scottish — just like being miserable.

    Scott Campbell

    October 26, 2009 at 7:25 pm

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