Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Buy a 1950s Classic Car for Pennies

If you've ever wanted to own a classic 1950s Detroit Dream car, but couldn't afford one, and, besides, there's no room in the garage, you can thank the U.S. Postal Service for helping your great drives dream come true.

This fall, some 50 million Detroit classics will be arriving in the nation's 37,000 Post Office locations. Think of it -- an entire collection of Detroit classics, fins and chrome and memories, for just 42 cents each!

It's a stylish and nostalgic way to pay your bills, perhaps reconnect with friends from those days, when life was simpler and so were cars.

The Detroit classics were all great drives. The collection includes --
  • '57 Chrysler 300C
  • '57 Lincoln Premiere
  • '57 Pontiac Safari,
  • '57 Studebaker Golden Hawk
  • '59 Cadillac Eldorado

The stamps feature paintings of the Dream Cars by automobile artist Art. M. Fitzpatrick. modeled after cars still on the road today.

It's the second group of America on the Move stamps. The first was issued in 2005 with Sporty Cars of the 50s, including a '52 Nash Healey, '53 Chevrolet Corvette, '53 Studebaker Starliner, '54 Kaiser Darrin and a '55 Ford Thunderbird.

The 1950s was the heyday of American automobile design. Fins, chrome, power, and the freedom of the open road. And gas cost maybe 20 cents a gallon.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

2009 Subaru Forester Named Best for Safety

The safest car on the road is the 2009 Subaru Forester, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The annual award is based on overall crash ratings. The 2009 Subaru Forester did best in the Institute's front, side and rear crash tests.

Since you don't know what kind of a crash you could be in, it's important to select a vehicle that tests well under all conditions. That's what earned the car the title of '2008 Top Safety Pick'.

The Forester also features electronic stability control as standard equipment. ESC helps prevent a vehicle from skidding sideways. It's a great feature -- unfortunately ever manufacturer calls it something different.

Subaru's electronic stability control feature is called VDC, for Vehicle Dynamics Control.

The system is called StabiliTrak in General Motors and GMC products. AdvanceTrack is what Ford calls it.

Honda and Acura call it Vehicle Stability Assist. Toyota and Lexus call it Vehicle Stability Control. Nissan calls it Vehicle Dynamic Control.

The most popular name is ESP, for Electronic Stability Prorgram. That's what Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Dodge, Chrysler, Hyundai, Saab and Volkswagen call it.

Whatever you call it, it can help you avoid an accident, or lessen the impact of one you cannot avoid.

Back to the the crash testing --

Front crashes are at 40 MPH, and evaluation is based in part on virtual injuries to a crash dummy in the driver's seat

Side impacts are done with a barrier slamming into the vehicle at 31 MPH -- the barrier represents an SUV or pick-up truck. In this test, there is a second crash dummy passenger. Virtual injuries to both are measured.

Rear crach testing is a bit trickier, since it is designed to measure how well seat features such as head restraints protects driver and passengers from whiplash and other injuries.

Okay, so the 2009 Subaru Forester isn't the sexiest, best-looking car on the road. But it's the safest. That makes it a great drive.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Buyers Look for More Fuel Efficient Cars

The steep climb in gas prices is causing more new car buyers to look at fuel efficient cars including hybrids.

Average gas prices in the United States jumped from $2.97 to $3.27 in March 2008, and probably will go higher for the peak summer driving months. Gas prices always go up between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

So, it should be no surprise that the attitudes of new car shoppers are shifting.

And, it should be no surprise that sales of small, fuel efficient cars such as the Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, Chevrolet Cobalt and Smart ForTwo (pictured) are up, up, up, at a time when sales of gas guzzlers are down, down down.

According to a recent Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research study, only 25 percent of new car buyers still have no intentions in changing their behaviors. According to my math, that means 75 percent of us are looking hard at the sticker shock at the gas pump.

Kelley Blue Book found that it is cost per gallon, rather than the environmental cost of vehicles that are not fuel efficient, which is driving buyers to consider smaller cars, hybrids and other fuel efficient alternative technologies.

That's too bad. Saving the green environment should rank right up there with saving the green dollars in your wallet.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hybrid SUV Gets 150 Miles Per Gallon

The world's most fuel efficient car is a hybrid vehicle called the XH-150, for Extreme Hybrid 150 Miles Per Gallon wonder-car.

Does it come from Detroit? Stuttgart? Tokyo? Gothenburg, Sweden? No.

This revolutionary super-hybrid is from AFS Trinity Power Corporation , a company based just outside Seattle, a city better known for making airplanes. These guys are taking the technology learned from developing and testing battery systems for such high-tech groups as NASA, the U.S. Army and Navy, and also for Formula One racing, and adapting it for us.

The XH-150 is on its way to Washington, D.C. for Earth Day, where it will be parked on the Capital Mall in Washington, D.C. April 20. Maybe it will shame some of our Senators and Congressmen into legislating some teeth into getting us more fuel-efficient cars, instead of just blabbering about it.

In January, when it was introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, CNN and others said the XH-150 could be the "car of the future".

Makes you wonder why Detroit, Stuttgart, Tokyo and Gothenburg haven't given us a 150MPH car yet.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Top Cities for Hybrid Cars

Which cities are the most popular for green, fuel efficient hybrid cars?

According to, the top five are all on the West Coast -- San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Sacramento and San Diego.

Those are the cities in which at least 50% of car shoppers already have purchased -- or are considering buying -- a hybrid as their next car. did a market-by-market survey of fifty cities. So if the West Coast is the most green, which part of the USA is the least green? The South.

Houston, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Birmingham and Miami are the bottom five of green car cities -- numbers 46-50.

Shame on you Miami for being bottom of the green barrel! Surely you would move up a few notches if one of the car-makers introduces a hybrid convertible.

Actually, a Prius convertible would be a hot car!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reducing Sun Glare When you Drive

Avoid sun glare when driving, and you might also avoid an accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 80 percent of accidents occur within three seconds of some form of distraction. That includes cell phones, adjusting the radio, dashboard dining, changing the heating or air conditioning, smoking, personal grooming, driving when tired -- and sun glare.

Driving glasses from Drivewear Technology can't do anything about cell phone distraction, but can fix the sun glare problem, with lenses that lighten and darken for road conditions from overcast to daylight to bright light.

The glasses combines two technologies: photochromic, which is activated by light, and polarization, which eliminates glare.

Drivewear lenses change color to best fit the light conditions; high contrast yellow-green in overcast conditions, copper for bright conditions behind the windshield of a car, and dark reddish-brown in bright outdoor light.

Equally important to eye health, the glasses block 100 percent of ultraviolet light, both UV A and UV B.

According to the Vision Council of America, the sun is one of the most overlooked dangers while driving, particularly during the height of morning and evening commutes. Thousands of people are injured each year, some fatally, as a result of glare.

Drivewear lenses are available as both prescription and non-prescription sun lenses.