I write stuff. A lot of it is about cars and motorcycles.

Dale Franks

Big News from the Big Shows

This week is a treat for car and motorcycle enthusiasts both, as both the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) car show in the US and Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori (EICMA) motorcycle show in Italy are taking place this week. Lots of stuff has happened, so let’s hit the high points, starting with EICMA.

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Not a Luxury Car

2014 Audi S4

Several years ago, Audi went through a bad patch. People were accusing Audis of unintended acceleration. The story was that you’d be plodding along through a school zone at 10 MPH when the Audi you were driving would suddenly accelerate at maximum speed into a gaggle of children. Audi disputed this. Consumers didn’t believe them, most likely because the media hyped the story, a lot. Turns out it was most likely the idiots behind the wheel. It still put a lot of hurt on Audi, and their US sales cratered.

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The Bane of My Existence

The 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GTS that is sitting in my driveway is not mine. It belongs to The Lovely Christine. Yet it taunts me mercilessly, mocking me for ever having gotten involved with it. It now symbolizes everything that is wrong with my life; everything that has gone terribly, terribly wrong. It is a hateful malevolent presence that corrupts everything it touches. Before last month, it was just a mildly irritating vehicle that Chris thought of as a sports car, and I thought of—when I thought of it at all—as something I’d like her to trade in for something fun. But circumstances forced me to become entangled with it, and it has made everything about my life worse. Well, that’s not quite true…it’s just one of the two things that have done so, recently. There’s a story behind it all, you see.

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Unjustly Unloved

2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring Sedan Review

The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry sell well. They aren’t bad cars, either, though they’re inoffensive and boring. Honda and Toyota sell quite a lot of them, too. They’re one of the bread and butter sedans you see on American roads. They aren’t the only choices, though. They may not even be the best choices. Even Toyota now seems to realize this, as this week, one of Toyota’s chiefs told the motoring press that Toyota has decided to start making cars that excite 10 people out of 100, instead of trying not to offend all 100. Still, the Camry is what it is, for now.

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Improvements: Hidden, But Real

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but since Friday, the speed of the web site has improved tremendously, with much faster page loads. I haven’t been writing, but I have been busy. For many, many years—since about 1997, in fact, the web site has been hosted at the same place. In all of the incarnations it’s been through, my web host hasn’t changed.

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Backyard Photography

Chris and I were spending time in the backyard with the dogs, and I decided to pull out my Panasonic Lumix FZ-200 and take some pictures. The star of the show turned out to be—as it almost always is—our goofy boxer, Apollo. Click on the photos for the hi-res versions. Continue reading

Always buy the KitchenAid

2014 Honda Accord EL-X V6 Sedan

Some cars are appliances. They aren’t exciting and massively powered. They don’t cosset you with sumptuous luxury. You just, you know, drive them, and they take you places. The Honda Accord is one such appliance. But the thing about appliances is that they aren’t all the same. In fact, some of them are quite good. You can buy a mixer from Hamilton Beach, and it’ll be alright, and do what you expect it to do. But, if you want a mixer that will not only do a fantastic job, but can be passed down to your great-grandchildren, you buy a KitchenAid.

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Erik Buell Racing 1190RX Unveiled

Finally, a Buell motorcycle regular people can buy—though at $19,000, it’s still pretty pricey. But, maybe it’s worth it. Coming in at a claimed 419 lbs. the Buell guys have gotten a solid 185 HP and a monstrous 101.6 lb-ft of torque from the Rotax Helicon V-Twin motor.  Other Buell-y Continue reading

Middle Child

2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS

In certain parts of the country, the way you show your family and friends that you’ve hit the big time is to buy yourself a double-wide mobile home and a Chevy Camaro. In these politically correct times, it’s not polite to mention this stereotype, of course. But it’s so prevalent that it’s hard not to do so. For instance, I couldn’t even avoid it in the first sentence of this review.

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Your Craigslist ad sucks

Have you ever tried to sell a car or motorcycle on craigslist and wondered why no one called you? There’s probably a simple explanation for that: Your Craigslist ad sucks. Think about it. You’re trying to get a total stranger to come to your house and give you thousands of dollars. If you expect that to happen, you have to take the time to create an ad that provokes enough interest in your car or bike to make somebody at least give you a call. Show a minimal amount of effort, for crying out loud! Here’s a few tips.

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Bland Ambition

2013 Chrysler 200 Touring Review

Chrysler is a brand of cars that I just don’t understand. They only make four models of car, and, really, those cars are just rebadged Dodges. The mechanicals are all the same, and so are the materials used in the interiors. The only difference between the Chrysler and Dodge versions of a car is that the Dodge incorporates exterior styling that makes it look like it wouldn’t mind slitting a few throats if it got bored. Chryslers have softer exterior styling, and look a little less blue-collar than Dodges on the inside.

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