If you like hairy, middle-aged men ranting about stuff then you’re going to love this episode. In our continued stance of not getting political, we focus on two topics all about politics. Andrew also tries to console Chris through an extensional crisis regarding his love for cars and there’s a shocking confession during the the news segment.
Do you fondly remember a time when you had to sit through a friend’s photo slideshow of their holiday while they rabbited on about every minute detail as if somehow you’re supposed to care? No. Well, here it is in modern form anyway. Here, Chris reflects on his travels in The States where he got to drive the new Mustang on a few road-trips and also got to take a Wrangler Rubicon out wheeling in the Arizona desert.
In Episode 18 Chris and I might have angered a few Honda owners by suggesting that their beloved VTECs – Type Rs, no less – aren’t actually fast. Fearing that one of us might soon get doxxed by a furious EP3-owning IT professional I figured it was time to clarify our position. Don’t call it a backtrack though – they aren’t fast.
Continue reading VTECs Aren’t Fast… and That’s Fine
As we hit Episode 18 and Men In Sheds enters adulthood, we have changed up the format in a bid to border on being entertaining. We start off with the news, asking if we are peak VAG, questioning if the VTEC really does kick in, yo, and giving the lowdown on detailing for the lazy car owner. You may want to make your way down to the local bunker as some truth bombs are well and truly dropped.
Usually I go into writing an article with a clear idea of what it is I want to say. Often this comes about thanks to some deep reflection which has led one or two conclusions — this is one of those few times I’m completely at a loss. I simply don’t know how I feel about American car culture right now, having just spent a few weeks over there.
Like a lot of car fans my age, the United States had a huge affect on my upbringing and love of all things automotive. I grew up on a daily dose of Dukes of Hazard, A-Team, the Fall Guy, and Knight Rider with seasonal lashings of Battle of The Monster Trucks and weekend features of Cannonball Run, Smokey and the Bandit, Herbie, and more.
In fact, back then, it feels like everything out of America was sprinkled with car culture like it was the pop equivalent of cinnamon. The Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles had their van, the Munsters their kustom coach, and the Monkees rode around in their Monkeemobile. Barbie had a Ferrari, Ken had a Corvette, and each of Charlie’s Angels had car to help define their personality. It was like nobody could ever really feel actualised until they had a car to define their being — it helps explain a lot about my generation’s attitude to modified car culture now.
My first trip to The States was back in 2007 and, in those ten years since, I’ve been back three times. Each time I visit, it seems their car culture has taken another long step in the wrong direction.
We flew out to Phoenix, Arizona this time, via Atlanta. One of my favourite parts of flying to America is landing at the airport, not just because I hate flying but because you’re greeted with F-Series trucks and E-Series vans cruising around airside getting their jobs done. That never seems to change. Blue collar car culture remains as American as concealed carry and barely anymore progressive. When a white F150 eventually dies, it’s replaced with slightly curvier F150 which may or may not have a new generation of engine between the rails of what is in earnest a 70 year old chassis bordering on an institution. You could start a religion there around ladder frames and leaf springs and thousands upon thousands would come to hear you preach. And I like that. Commercial vehicles are the most organic of any country’s automotive portfolio, be it the Transit van of the UK or the Tuk Tuks of Indaa.
However, from the second you walk out those automatic doors and drag your luggage by the taxi rank, you quickly see what American cars have become. They are fat, they are ugly, and many of them are obese. They are a mishmash of vacuous European blandness and crass American hedonism. This is now a world of the have and have-land-yachts. Continue reading Oh America, How Your Current Car Culture Confuses Me
So, one of us has strayed a little far from the shed. Thousands of miles afar. Therefore, this is our first international episode via Skype with Andrew sweltering in Staffordshire and Chris sweating it out in Arizona. The topic? Well it’s America for the past, America for the present, and America for the future, HOBVIOUSLY!
We’ve been out practicing our camerawork again. We’re getting a lot better now – plus we’re thinking of starting a side business in pruning trees.
I’m fortunate enough to write that I’ve only ever suffered two instances where a car of mine has, as Rolls Royce famously put it, failed to proceed. The first was when the coil went on my Mini and the second was when my XR4x4 ripped a tie-rod through a decaying bush.
Now, that’s not to say I’ve never been in a situation where recovery may have been the appropriate fix — I’ve bump-started my own car while having to push and hold the battery cable in place at the same time, I’ve vibrated an hour down the M6 with a driveshaft universal joint failure, and… well… there’s worse I don’t feel too comfortable talking about in the public arena.
I have recovery cover. I keep my card with me on all journeys, and I have the number stored in my phone. I admit I’ve been lucky, but I’ve also been resourceful, hence why these days I carry more stuff in my trunk than a WRC support vehicle. That said, a lot of how we act in these situations comes down to how we operate at our core.
During the last Men In Sheds vlog, a Barn Tune episode where we replaced the turbo in Andrew’s Wagon-R, we ventured out to conduct a road test and collect some pizza. We were far too pre-occupied with the pizza. We left his home with hot tea in our bellies but no fluid checks and barely a once over of the engine bay. We took nothing with us. No oil. No water. No tools. Plus, we of course ventured out into the sticks grinning into the camera like we were invincible. We didn’t realise that our comments celebrating the Wagon-R “Moving under its own steam” would foreshadow what was about to happen. Continue reading Flight Or Fight — Our Human Response When Our Cars Break Down
So, as some of you may know, Andrew’s Wagon-All-The-Rs decided it didn’t want to have a turbo anymore and turned the turbine impeller into a waste disposal unit. In this Barn Tune vlog, we finish up the replacement of the turbo, give a lecture on turbocharging in general, and breakdown during the test drive.