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The MidShip Report©:
[by john miller; John-M1@ML1media.com]
Britain and Germany. It’s a combination that brings to mind all sorts of political and/or philosophical arguments. The thought struck me twice in one week –first at the British Car show and then seven days later at an All VW show. [Yes, there’s Porsche content in this article…even Boxster content, if you decide to hang around.]
The British Car show is an all British marques affair held annually in the outskirts of Chicago –the past few years in south suburban Palos Hills. It’s a remarkable gathering ---and yes, I’m the same person who previously ripped on old British cars in this column---and I still seize the opportunity to tease that the company slogans were, “XXXX! (insert any Brit auto brand), They aren’t supposed to run ALL of the time”. True observation: There were at least a half dozen flatbed tow trucks circling the edges of the exhibit area like vultures. But I willingly acknowledge, with no disrespect to the likes of Gandini, Giugiaro, or Bertone, (if you don’t recognize these legendary Italian designers, just go ahead and turn the page), the British cars of the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s are the most timeless, beautiful automotive designs of the era. Sure, Porsche had a few stunners in the plastic body cars and Ferrari and Lamborghini knocked out a winner here and there, but those were so tiny in terms of production quantity, they don’t even qualify as ‘small time’ production –just a hair above boutique one and two-offs. Say all you want about Lucas electrics (I certainly have!) but a 60’s era Jag E-type (XK-E), BOTH coupe and convertible (photo 1), were as close to mass-produced (over 70,000 manufactured) elegance and beauty as ever done. As it would so happen, the organizers chose to intermix new and old. The current model, the XK8 turned up in several places sitting next to an XK-E. No comparison. The XK8 (and XKR) are certainly nice, competent cars…but fall decidedly in category of ‘Grand tourer’. XK-E is synonymous with Sportscar.
Another admission: Not until I strolled row after row (yes, that many still exist) of old Triumphs did I realize how many absolutely, stunningly gorgeous models were produced –the Stags, the Spitfires/GT6s, even the TR line (4A/5/6/7and 8). Small concession here; the Stag and Spitfire line were designed or influenced by largely unheralded designer Giovanni Michelotti of Turin, Italy. Sure, mechanically, many were absolute junk on day 1. But here they were, by the hundreds, 40 years later, and still running. Of course, Lotus was there-old and new, side by side (photo 2), Aston Martin, too--old and new, side by side (photo 2), as was Morris and MG (‘Morris Garages’), Rolls, Jensen, Healy, Austin, even 8 or 9 Sunbeams (dazzling), and a couple of Reliants, AC’s and TVR’s (magnificent).
It was the old-new contrasts that started this entire chain of thoughts –most notably this one (photo 3): The Mini (or Austin Seven as it was originally known), a purely British car at its inception almost 50 years ago, sitting side by side with the ‘new’ MINI –now a German car by way of BMW. Hold this thought;
The ALL VW show is also an annual event --- organized by the local VW club in cooperation with a VW dealer in northwest suburban Chicago --- it welcomes new and old VWs, and everything in between or even loosely related. Where the Brit car show may have been proper and reserved, the VW crowd leans to quirky and kooky –photo 4 says plenty. And while there’s always an ‘aspiring’ Porsche crowd exhibiting (photo 5), spectators included the real thing (note arrow). And how does this relate to the British cars? VW, a German company, bought Rolls Royce in 1998 although (inexplicably) lost the right to the manufacture of cars with the Rolls-Royce name …to another German company: BMW; VW ended up with the Bentley line –yet another British marque. And?... So?......
Reads like a Soap Opera Serial
Britain Acquires Germany
Following up on last month’s MidShip that covered my Boxster ignition switch failure (‘Captain Crunch’), I did an ‘autopsy’ on the failed switch. The original switch is an Audi/VW plastic ignition switch (Audi part number 4A0905849B). I opened the switch and found the source of the problem –and most interestingly, it had nothing to do with the electronic components inside the switch. Photo 7 shows the switch after disassembly. The arrow points to an impossibly small piece of plastic –the plastic functioned as a ‘tab’ or ‘stop’ inside the switch casing (at the ‘x’). It’s not what I’d call quality engineering –evidently, Porsche agreed when it changed the design in 2004. No matter, for less than $20, I’ve already purchased the OEM equivalent replacement as a spare to the one I already installed. I put it, along with the tools necessary to change it out, into the trunk where it will stay until needed---hopefully not for another 6 years.
Occasionally, a reader will take exception to something I've written. Actually, I suspect readers often take exception to something I've written, but few take the time to write me about it, so I'll give this a few words. A reader wrote to complain that one of the steps for the switch replacement in the October Edition was wrong--Step #2: Disconnect battery ground cable. The reader suggested that it should always be the Positive cable to disconnect and related a story that he had heard about a individual that touched off an electric short and was injured because he disconnected the ground cable instead of the positive. I wrote back to the reader with an explanation of my viewpoint, which he didn't accept. I suggested there were two schools of thought.It would seem logical to disconnect the Hot side terminal from
the battery, but from a purely electrical standpoint, it does not
matter which terminal you disconnect. An open circuit is an open
circuit...when the circuit is open, current is not flowing. If one were working around the battery, as you would
in an engine compartment of a 914, yes, there's a chance you could
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