Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Future is Almost iHere

I received yet another new product for testing the other day. This one sounded real promising and I was looking forward to testing it. I ended up being a tiny bit disappointed but let me explain further...

Have you ever lost your car keys? I think we all have at one time or another. Most of the time they are just "somewhere in the house" but locating them is nothing short of a monumental undertaking, usually requiring a team of volunteers. Looking to put an end to decades of human misery, Nonda  came out with the  iHere, the best item locator in the world! Not only is this little device a key locator, it also can call your cell phone (to find it when you misplace it), locate the last place you parked your car, record messages, and even use it as a selfie remote. Say goodbye to selfie sticks!

This shot will give you a good idea of iHere's size

All these features sound great but the one I was most interested in was the key finder. Not because I misplace my keys a lot but rather I thought there could be other possibilities for this feature. My dreams were crushed when I realized that the iHere device is not GPS based, it is bluetooth activated. The maximum distance to "locate" your keys or whatever you attach the iHere fob to is limited to the range of your phone's bluetooth, that or the last known location via google maps. The vehicle locator works by locking in your car's location via your phone. Just choose "Car Locator" in the iHere app on your phone. Press the button on the iHere fob and the app will remember that location for locating your car. Getting back to the key finder feature, the app does have a "lost keys" feature. When this is activated the app will "search" for your iHere using anyone's device that has the app downloaded. If your iHere's signal is picked up by another device's bluetooth, the location is sent to you. Pretty cool feature but it is dependent on other devices passing within bluetooth range of your iHere. Obviously, the more folks that have this app the better this feature will work. It doesn't take a computer scientist to figure that one out.

Although the app was easy to find I had to delete it twice before I got it to download and work correctly. The fob also needs to be charged before using it and about twice a month or more after that depending on how much it is used. The app does tell you the state of charge of your iHere, which is a useful feature. In summary, this is a clever little device, albeit with a few quirks. If you're prone to losing your keys or forgetting where you parked your car, this might be your lifesaver. Do yourself a favor and check out  iHere,  .

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Hundred Dollars at a Time

I came across this video recently and just had to share it with all my readers. Watching this brought back a flood of memories of my '64 Falcon Sprint that I use to own. Man, I wish I still had that car...

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Truck Sunday

It's been awhile since I have posted anything car show related here at the Amberlight Garage. I must admit that I have been quite remiss in my blogging duties. I hope to rectify this oversight in 2016 by attending as many car shows as possible so I can share them with all of my readers here.

The show that I attended today was called Super Truck Sunday which was held at a local Bob's Big Boy restaurant. The turn out was pretty good considering it was Super Bowl Sunday and all. There wasn't just trucks there as I saw a few wagons as well. Heck, I even spotted a contingency of vans! Who said vannin' was dead? Not me! I predicted the resurgence here.Without further ado, here are my pictures...
Very cool Rambler gasser wagon.

Big block Olds powered!

This shot will give you an idea of how high this Rambler is.
Suddenly it's the 70's again.

A couple of Dodge custom vans.

Murals are kind of expected on a van.

Another Ford custom van.

Check out the interior of this Ford shaggin' wagon.
A super clean GMC pickup.

Nice early Mack diesel tractor.

Check out these Ford Econolines.

This is an E100 pickup.

Econoline pickup and Econoline van.
The tail light of a Chevy Cameo truck.

A C-20 Chevy bagged with a radically shortened bed.

Super clean Ford Country Squire station wagon.

Magnum 500s, faux wood paneling and a surf board!

Near perfect stance on this Ford pickup.

This big window is tucking some meats under those fenders.

All good things must come to an end...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

ZUS - The God of Phone Chargers

I have said it before on this blog, I get a lot of interesting emails. One of my latest was from a very nice gal asking me if I wanted to try out a new smart phone charger, or as they called it, a "smart car charger". Sure, why not? If you've seen one charger you've seen them all, right? That's what I thought, but I was wrong... very wrong. Let me explain.

Most in-car chargers that I have had were bulky and awkward. Some even had huge coiled cords on them like on an old fashion land line telephone. Remember those? Also, a lot of the chargers did not fit very well in the power port or cigarette lighter socket. They would move up and down or lose connection while you were driving. The best one to date was just a small, simple charger with a single USB connection. That's what I was using until I received the ZUS .

The ZUS is one slick charger. It is the only car charger to meet US Military Standard MIL-STD-810G High Temperature Standards which might explain why it kind of looks like a miniature SR-71 Blackbird. Pumping out a maximum 4.8 amps, this beast can charge your device at 2x the charging speed of normal car chargers. Both your kids have iPads? Plug them both into ZUS at the same time! Other features include lighted USB ports and smart device detection for optimum charging. I have saved what might be the best feature of ZUS for last - the Smart Car Locator. No, it doesn't find "Smart" cars, it locates your car! That's right, losing your car is now a thing of the past. Just open up the ZUS app on your phone and walk in the direction of the red arrow to find your ride. The app connects to the ZUS device through Bluetooth 4.0 so you need a device with Android 4.3 or newer to use it. The app is available in both the App Store and Google Play.

Because of the aforementioned fit problems that I had experienced with other chargers, I wanted to see how well the ZUS fit in various types of automobiles. Not every power port or cigarette lighter socket is in the same location so I needed to put this high tech charger to the test...

The packaging is almost as impressive as the charger! I'll save you some grief by letting you know to carefully cut one of the plastic tabs that go into the USB port and then gently pull the unit free from the other tabs.

Here is the ZUS in a 2014 GMC truck. Nice tight fit and it does not stick out too far.

Here is the ZUS in a 2014 Ford Mustang. Note how deep this power port is. ZUS fit perfectly! No worries about cord clearance because the USB ports are slightly angled.

Here is the ZUS in a 2012 Fiat 500. Nice tight fit and lots of clearance.

Finally, this wouldn't be Frank's Classic Car Blog without including a classic car! Here is the ZUS in a 1967 Oldsmobile.

In my opinion the ZUS is one of the best designed car chargers on the market, bar none. I'm hooked on it. Let me put it this way, if Chuck Norris needed a smart phone, he would have a ZUS! It's like the MacGyver of chargers, but that comparison is probably lost on anyone younger then 30. MacGyver was bad ass. Google it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Targa Florio

I was obsessed with race cars from a very young age. When I was 6 years old my dad took me to my first race, the Inaugural California 500. This was held at the brand new Ontario Motor Speedway and featured Indy style open wheel race cars. Ontario Motor Speedway (OMS) was known as the "Indianapolis of the West" and was the first and only automobile racing facility built to accommodate major races sanctioned by all of the four dominant racing sanctioning bodies. Although the racing was great, the thing I remember most was the souvenir that I got that day. There was a poster vendor and I recall that I didn't really like the plain looking OMS or driver posters that everyone seemed to be buying. What caught my young eye was a large color poster of a red Ferrari 330P3. In large print across the bottom were two words: "Targa Florio".

That poster hung in my room for years. I think I was about 10 years old when I finally found out what the Targa Florio was. I have never forgot that name or poster. Fast forward to the present day. Yet another interesting email pops up in my inbox. This particular one just happens to be from Antonino Salemi, the Director of the Floriopoli Natural Museum in Sicily. For those who are not familiar, Floriopoli is the temple of the legendary Targa Florio.
Floriopoli 1968
Mr Salemi wrote to tell me that the Floriopoli Natural Museum has started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to restore Floriopoli, an important place of history of the legendary Targa Florio. They are calling it the "Rebirth of Floriopoli" and you can view their campaign here: Check out this link here  for more information on the museum itself.

Lets back this project and be a part of history at the same time. There are some cool rewards depending on what your pledge is. Personally I chose the 65 lira pledge (about $72 USD), which includes a exclusive book on the history of Floriopoli autographed by the director of the museum. Do yourself a favor and check it out:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

FranktoidTM No 15 - Safety First

Safety equipment on vehicles today is not only the norm, it's expected. And as manufactures have discovered, it is a big selling point. It was not too long ago that safety was actually the last thing on a automobile engineer's mind. It wasn't that safety items weren't thought of or invented, it was that they were expensive to put in a mass produced vehicle. I don't know if back then it was too hard to sell a consumer on safety items or if the major automobile corporations just didn't want to spend the money to make their vehicles safer.

There were a few car companies that use to exist that were way ahead of their time, both in innovation and safety. The stories vary but some were bought out and others were driven out of business. This was usually because of a superior design or feature that if left unchecked, could potentially catch on with consumers and eventually force the large manufactures to adopt a similar feature or design which would ultimately affect their profits. Heck, there was even a movie made about one such company called Tucker: The Man and His Machine. Another company that was ahead of it's time was Kaiser Motors Corporation. As early as 1950, the then Kaiser-Frazer Corporation started engineering safety features into their cars. By 1953 Kaiser had what they called "the world's first 'safety first' car". To quote General Manager Edgar F. Kaiser, "We chose safety before horsepower." In brief, these safety features included the following:
1) A padded crash panel which extends the full width of the dash.
2) Seat design that cradles passenger weight at a point near the center gravity, below the tire line.
3) Extra leg room so that passengers ride in a safer semi-reclining position.
4) A safety mounted one piece windshield designed to "give" upon severe impact.
5) Location of the hand brake brake in it's most accessible position.
6) All instrument panel controls recessed below the dash surface.

This was 1953 folks! Jump in a '53 Ford or Chevy and see how many of these features they have. It wasn't until 1959 that Congress passed legislation requiring all automobiles to comply with certain safety standards. Keep in mind that even seat belts were an option back then that you had to pay extra for and that's only if the manufacturer offered them. Believe it or not seat belts were not made mandatory in passenger vehicles until 1968. So the next time you go new car shopping take a minute and think about this: most of the safety features on today's cars that we take for granted weren't even available to most of our grandparents...