Thursday , June 29 2017
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Eric Peters

Eric Peters

Eric started out writing about cars for mainstream media outlets such as The Washington Times, Detroit News and Free Press, Investors Business Daily, The American Spectator, National Review, The Chicago Tribune and Wall Street Journal.

Articles by Eric Peters

Whatever Happened to CNG-Powered Cars?

1 day ago

It’s interesting to speculate about why solutions that would have actually worked – which did work –  seem to always just kind of .  . .   go away. 
Not the fabled 100 MPG carburetor. That probably never existed.
But how about cars powered by compressed natural gas (CNG)?
They did exist. And – much more interesting – they worked. 
Several car companies – including GM and Ford  – offered them, briefly, back in the late 1990s. Including CNG-powered versions of their full-size sedans (the Impala and Crown Victoria, respectively) with room for six and a V8 engine under the hood.
Beats hell out of a four-cylinder hybrid.
Time to buy old US gold coins
And not just 0-60.
These CNG-powered cars didn’t cost a fortune – which made their economics much more sensible

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Demonizing the Demon

3 days ago

People who are jealous of their right to own firearms know how important it is to mercilessly stomp even the slightest suggestion that their right to own a gun be restricted in some manner, no matter how trivial it may seem.
Because the principle at stake is critical.
If it is acceptable to chip away at a right because of this – then surely that will follow. It is like the income tax, which people were assured would apply only to “the rich” when it was first proposed.
Now, of course, it applies to everyone.
Because the principle of taxing people’s earnings was accepted. Once that was accepted, it was hard to make a principled argument against taxing anyone’s income.
Which brings us to Larry Vellequette.
Time to buy old US gold coins
This guy – a writer for

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The Money Pit

6 days ago

People made fun of cars like the Vega and Chevette – but at least GM made money on them. And when GM stopped making money on cars like them, it stopped trying to sell them.
They got cancelled and replaced.
Profitability used to determine whether a car remained in production.
Of course, those were the Old Days – when the car business wasn’t a government-supported, politically-motivated crony capitalist enterprise, as it is today.
Today, profits don’t matter. Grotesque losses are embraced – probably because GM (and the rest of the industry) knows that the government – read, you and me – will eventually end up with the bill, so not to worry.
Time to buy old US gold coins
And so it is not a huge surprise to read that the financial services company UBS – doing a

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The Government Is Violent

13 days ago

Violence is, unfortunately, fungible.
As this society becomes more and more officially violent, it is probable that unofficial violence will also increase. In fact, it is almost a mathematical axiom. It is also one not comprehended by those most responsible for initiating the process.
Police and politicians seem baffled by the growing disenchantment with their class. They seem to expect people to behave toward them with respect and deference no matter what they do – by dint of the fact that what they do is Official and Legal.
Why are politicians – left and right – increasingly despised by reasonable people? Could it have anything to do with the fact that they will not leave people alone? That all they do – at great expense (to us) and with great pomposity –

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Pop Goes the Car Bubble

19 days ago

Almost every negative thing happening in the car business – in particular, ludicrous technical complexity for the sake of electronic gimmickry and also to cope with diminishing returns federal “safety” and emissions mandates – could be gotten under control by the simple expedient of cutting off the monopoly money/debt-financing that makes it all possible.
The seven-year loan.
“Free” money (zero or very low interest).
Give-away leases.
The car industry is riding a bubble that’s proportionately as large as the housing bubble of a decade ago. And it is going to pop. For the same reason that a wave has to crest and wash ashore, once set in motion.
Signs of trouble abound. They build them – but no one comes. Not without inducements that amount to giveaways.

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Beware the Car Options

21 days ago

Whatever their failings, machines generally don’t second-guess you. Turn them on, turn them off. Point them in a certain direction. Command them to move or spin or do whatever it is they were made to do and – assuming they are not broken – they will usually do it.
And won’t try to nudge you to do what they think is best.
Electronic gadgets, on the other hand . . .  .
They pre-empt and nudge. Do things you didn’t ask them to – and won’t do things you want them to. They turn on – and off- at random, according to their own lights. They are not broken, either.
Which means, of course, they can’t be fixed.
They seem to literally have a mind of their own – and in a very real sense, they do. They are programmed to guess/intuit/anticipate your needs – whether you

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Prohibitionism Advances in Utah

23 days ago

The slippery slope argument gets mocked a lot – but here’s another case that proves the point:
Utah has just done what thinking brains knew was inevitably coming. The state government has nearly halved the legal threshold defining what risibly continues to be called “drunk” driving (see here) from the iffy .08 BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) to the downright ridiculous .05 BAC.
This is a level that many people reach after as few as two – or fewer – drinks. One is enough, in some cases, to risk a “bust.”
Thus, Utah’s fatwa – and that is the right word, as this business comes out of religion – Mormonism – which would outlaw all drinking, period, if it had the power to do so – is a hop-skip away from outlawing any drinking prior to driving. Because with a threshold

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A Pat on His Orange Head

26 days ago

At last, something.
Trump “pulled out” of the Paris Climate Change Agreement – agreed to by his predecessor back in 2015 and awaiting a majoritarian 55 of the earth’s nations to agree before it becomes binding within those countries.
That is to say upon the people within those countries – who had no say in the matter whatsoever beyond the gauzy connection between a Dear Leader, who may have received the electoral support of a minority of the citizenry at some distant election, claiming to “represent” them when he says Aye.
Trump’s saying Nay – regardless of the reasons why – is (yes) huge.
Especially as regards your car.
New – and old.
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This has not been much discussed but ought to be.
Both, you see, “emit” carbon dioxide. Not

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Before You Go Old . . .

28 days ago

Maybe you’ve been thinking about buying an older car as a way to avoid some of the hassles, expense – and Big Brother-ish – aspects of owning a new car.
These are all-too-real. Especially the Big Brother-ish stuff, which is becoming insufferable as well as all-but-unavoidable. Good luck finding a new car without at least six air bags, an Event Data Recorder (EDR) and some kind of send-and-receive “telematics” (e.g., GM’s OnStar) that can – and will – be used to narc you out to either the government or the insurance mafia.
Or the merely aggravating – saaaaaaafety systems that pre-empt your decisions or scold you for the decisions you make.
This stuff is waxing much worse as the car companies fall over each other to double-down on electronic idiot-proofing

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Black and Blue

May 30, 2017

Naturally, the solution to the problem of police abusing their authority is to hold them less accountable when they do exactly that.
Leave it to “law and order” Republicans such as Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Ted Poe to evolve such logic. They have put forth the Black and Blue – whoops, Back the Blue – act (see here) which would make it harder to sue run-amok law enforcers in civil court to recover damages resulting from actions undeniably illegal – while at the same time imposing more severe penalties on Mundanes who affront the holy person of a law enforcer than those imposed on Mundanes who do exactly the same thing.
As regards the first:
So long as the victim – er, perp – was “engaged in felonies or crimes of violence” (how this it to be determined

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The Semi-Retired Car

May 26, 2017

New cars come with maintenance schedules that give you time/mileage intervals for things like oil changes, tune-ups, tire rotation and so on. Follow these recommendations and – assuming a decent/sound car to start with – it ought to be a long-lived car.
But what about old, semi-retired cars?
They came with maintenance schedules, too. But these assumed regular use. When that assumption no longer applies . . . what to do?
For example, my 1976 Trans-Am. I still have all the original paperwork, including the service schedule. It tells me to change the oil once every 7,500 miles or six months – whichever comes first. Well, it’ll take me at least  a decade to rack up 7,500 miles – since the car only leaves the garage occasionally. I drive it about 500 miles each

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Nothing Runs You Like a Deere. . .

May 24, 2017

We are allowed to use the land as the sovereign sees fit – and not otherwise. If we use it in ways forbidden, the king – whoops, Uncle – will punish us. He can also just take it from us via another noxious doctrine – that of eminent domain.
But until recently, we at least owned our incidentals – the small-potatoes stuff, like the clothes on our backs. Our cars.
Our tractors, certainly.
Not anymore.
Not if it’s a John Deere tractor.
When you buy one, you’re actually purchasing an “implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.“ Basically, a rental contract. With the difference being that even when the rental is paid off, you are still bound by the contract.
Time to buy old US gold coins
Yes, really.
It has to do with two things – the code

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A Great Time To Buy a Used Car

May 20, 2017

You might want to buy a used car while they’re cheap – but not just because they’re cheap.
And cheap they are.
Because of unprecedented desperation tactics to sell new cars – including under-bid incentives, cash back offers and “free money” loans at zero or nearly zero interest. Which the car companies have had to resort to during the past year in order to fluff up wilting sales (and sales are wilting regardless).
When you make new cars so attractive – so cheap – to buy, what happens is that used cars become even cheaper to buy.
It is hard to sell, as a for-instance, a $17,000 three-year-old Camry when you can buy a brand new one for around $22k out the door – especially when the payments on the new car are lower because the interest on the loan is less  and

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‘Autonomous’ Cars

May 18, 2017

Within 12 years, only 5 percent of the driving done in this country will be done by “autonomous” drivers – according to a study that is getting huge play all over the mediascape.
That is to say, only 5 percent of the driving will be done by people like you and me – ordinary people going where we like, when we like and controlling the car ourselves.
That is autonomy.
Sans the air quotes.
Not this Orwellian doublespeak about cars programmed by others and so controlled by others and which drive themselves without our input and which are subject to outside intervention contrary to our own wishes being characterized by the media as – ahem – “autonomous.”
That’s an inversion right up there with the “patriot” act – and Social Security “contributions.”
Time to buy

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Living in the Homeland

May 16, 2017

One of the truly scary things about living in The Homeland, as it is officially styled nowadays, is that you are subject to punishment prior to conviction. Merely to be accused is sufficient to deprive you of liberty and property.
And even when – after much expense (yours) and time forever lost – you are eventually able to prove your innocence (rather than them having to prove your guilt) those who abused you are never themselves punished for what they did to an innocent person – and good luck getting them to make you whole for what they did to your innocent person.   
The WarrnTrr – and The War on Some Drugs – account for much of this, but the rot goes deeper. The Homeland’s armed goons – and the Homeland’s robed goons – can summarily seize your person,

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The Danger of Low Speed Limits

May 12, 2017

Almost every new car I test drive – even the humblest hybrid – has a speedometer that reads to at least 120 mph.
140 is common; 160 not unusual. Some cars have speedometers that read to 180 or even 200 MPH
And some of those are capable of pegging them.
Few ever do.
It would be interesting to know how many cars are ever driven faster than 100 MPH. And also how many ever see 130 – even briefly. My bet is maybe one out of ten and then only for a brief moment of furtive lawlessness.
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First, of course, it is extraordinarily dangerous to drive that fast.
Not the speed, per se. In a modern car, 100 MPH is safer than 70 was in a 1960s-era car. Whether the measure is braking distances, lateral grip,

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Cars Are Better Than the Gov’t Intended

May 10, 2017

Cars are so much better than the government had intended that one can only imagine how good they might have been had the government not been involved at all.
In the first place, the government meant for most of us (but not them) to be driving small cars with not much power. This was the purpose of Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements, which first went into effect back in the 1970s.
And initially, it worked exactly as intended.
Cars got “downsized” across the board. The typical layout of the American family car went from rear-wheel-drive with a V8 engine up front to front-wheel-drive with a four-cylinder engine parked on top of the front wheels. Cars shed horsepower and engine displacement as well as curb weight, as the engineers groped for more MPGs.

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The $94,000 Traffic Ticket

May 5, 2017

Imagine a ticket for “failure to display a front license plate” – not even a moving violation – costing you almost six figures. Nathan Cox of Mechanicsville, VA doesn’t have to, because he lived it.
Well, he paid it.
And it could have been worse.
Initially, he was looking at $1.3 million. Technically, it wasn’t the fine for not having a front plate – which in Virginia is a $75 hit to the wallet (plus court costs, of course). But the vengeful Virginia State (Storm) Trooper who pulled him over for the absent plate was determined to make Cox pay.
Time to buy old US gold coins
Cox, you see, was one of those pesky people who make a fuss over trumped-up laws and codes that empower Storm Troopers to hurt people who’ve hurt no one – but who’ve affronted the

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Irreparable Damage

May 4, 2017

You’ve heard the saying – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? True enough. But there are also things you can’t fix once broken. The car will never be quite right again – and may be a lot wrong.
These Irreparables include:
* Water damage –
This has alway…

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April 29, 2017

Really, it’s surprising it took them so long.
But it is much more surprising that automotive journalists are leading the chorus ululating for the outlawing of the Dodge Demon muscle car. The automotive journalists at Automotive News – which is (or was) to the car world what The New York Times once was to the news-gathering world, cree that the Demon is “inherently dangerous to the common safety of motorists” and demand that it be “kept off our roads.” See here.
This is not much different than discovering an editorial in the morning paper written by Bernie Sanders arguing that the IRS should be abolished. When did automotive journalists morph into Safety Nags? And when did our roads become their roads?
It’s embarrassing.
First, on account of its general

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Is Slower Safer?

April 28, 2017

The mantra is that Slow is Safe. But Slow is often also oblivious – and sloppy.
Which tends to be dangerous, the opposite of safe.
The priests – and priestesses, more often – of The Safety Cult have not noticed.
The other day, I rolled up behind a car descending a mountain pass. The speed limit is 55 – the car was moping along at about 38 MPH. No, moping isn’t exactly the right word. It was randomly sashaying left then right, onto the shoulder – then across the double yellow.
Time to buy old US gold coins
But well below the Speed Limit.
[embedded content]
By Clover Standards, the person behind the wheel was thus, ipso facto, a Safe Driver.
Exceeding The Speed Limit is a kind of original sin within the Safety Cult. It must be obeyed, rigidly and reflexively.

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Snitch for the State

April 25, 2017

Late last week, it was revealed who squealed.
The Clover responsible for making it impossible for any of us to buy a diesel-powered Volkswagen henceforth – and a lot more – is Stuart Johnson, the former head of VW’s Engineering and Environmental Office in Auburn Hills, Michigan. He was outed in a book written about the VW “cheating” business by New York Times reporter Jack Ewing.
Johnson, of course, is about to get everything short of a ticker-tape parade. A bust of him will likely be cast and placed in the Hall of Mirrors – or whatever the equivalent is in the foyer of the EPA. He is already being lionized in the Usual Corners as a “hero” (that term, along with “community,” has worn out its welcome and ought to be etymologically euthanized).
You’d think he

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Hose Heroes?

April 21, 2017

Law enforcers aren’t “heroes”  . . .  but what about firemen?
Are they Hose Heroes?
People are pressured to regard them as such. Much as they are pressured to genuflect, North Korean funeral-style, before the Presence of a law enforcer.
You are probably forced to pay for fire “services” in your community. Just as you are forced to “help” pay for law enforcement – even if you yourself feel no need for either service and would rather opt-out, if that choice were available to you.
But of course, you have no such choice.
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And because you are forced to pay, there is no check on what is spent. The formerly small-scale local all-volunteer FD becomes professional – with salaried full-time firefighters who

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The Hero Problem

April 17, 2017

When the state and its media bullhorns refer to armed government workers – law enforcers – as “heroes,” it’s a sign the hour is getting late.
When most people don’t draw back and spit coffee all over the keyboard at the idea, it’s minutes to midnight.
How did it become “heroic” to enforce laws?
And if it is “heroic” to enforce laws then – ipso facto –  the East German Stasi, the Soviet GRU and NKVD were “heroic” also.
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Crickets, usually.
Well, cognitive dissonance. Too many people don’t make such connections; see the concept behind the particular.
“Law enforcement,” like references to the United States as the “Homeland” (mein Fuhrer! I can walk!) are relatively recent rust spots on the American quarter

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Desperate Solutions to Made-up Problems

April 11, 2017

Desperation brings out the worst in people – including engineers. But then, you can’t really fault them. The government issues its fatwas – which aren’t suggestions – and it is the job of the engineers to figure out ways to comply with the fatwas.
Hence, the becoming commonplace use of turbochargers and direct injection. Neither makes much sense except as measures to achieve compliance with federal fatwas, chiefly the one ululating that every new car must average at least 35.5 MPG and if not, its manufacturer will be caned in the public square.
Well, financially caned – via deliberately punitive “gas guzzler” taxes that are applied to the not-compliant cars. The taxes are passed directly to the buyer, who thus becomes less apt to buy – which renders it more

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Taxing Them Off the Road

March 30, 2017

For planned obsolescence to work, you’ve got to keep the conveyor belt rolling. And most of all, prevent anyone from getting off.
It is a problem if people “cling” to their old cars instead of regularly trading them in – ideally, to be crushed – for new ones – hopefully, heavily financed.
But how to get rid of the old cars when people decline to get rid of them voluntarily?
Democratic politicians in Oregon have just the thing.
It is House Bill 2877 and – if it becomes law – it will impose heavy taxes on cars 20 years old or more to the tune of $1,000 payable every five years, in perpetuity – unless the owner obtains Antique Vehicle registration and tags for the vehicle.
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The Antique

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German Engineers Outsmart DC Bureaucrats

March 28, 2017

You make the rules, we’ll find new ways around them.
That could be AMG’s motto and maybe is . . . unofficially. The Rhinoceros Thing you see before you is somehow fully compliant with every government reg; and yet… well, just look at it.
Al Gore does not approve.
But it’s all – for the moment – perfectly legal. There is nothing they – the short-haired termagants at EPA and the beetle-like killjoys at NHTSA – can do to stop you from buying one or Mercedes (via AMG, Benz’s in-house high-performance skunkworks) from building it.
Why are the most advertised Gold and Silver coins NOT the best way to invest?
It’s got to be making them nuts.
Start with a GLE – a big and very heavy (5,000-plus pound) Mercedes SUV. Shave and swoop the roof but keep the

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Brock Yates, Phone Home

March 25, 2017

The car press has become the propaganda ministry of entities and individuals who either know nothing about cars or who loathe cars.
Whichever it is, the end result is the same: The writing of serially dishonest stories (and that ancient journalistic term is most apt) that anyone who does know something about cars – even if he loathes them – would notice immediately.
“The cost to implement tough fuel efficiency standards for cars imposed by the Obama Administration for the first half of the decade could be up to 40 percent lower than previously estimated using existing conventional technologies, according to a report from a nonprofit group released on Wednesday.”
Why are the most advertised Gold and Silver coins NOT the best way to invest?
Note the

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Subprime on Wheels

March 22, 2017

It’s a good time to be a repo man. . . again.
Lots of business picking up used cars people stopped making payments on.
According to S&P Global Ratings and an article in Bloomberg News, defaults on these subprime loans are at their highest water mark since the subprime collapse of 2008 and the “recovery rate” – what the lender ends up recouping of the original debt principle – is a mere 34.8 percent.
It’s a lot of money flushed.
But how is it that cars – all of them, not just the used ones – bleed value this quickly and this much?
It’s because they’re not really worth that much, to begin with.
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As distinct from what their price was, to begin with.
New car prices are hugely inflated – mostly because of

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Why the Press Is Hated

March 20, 2017

The press wonders – or pretends to wonder – why it’s held in contempt by more than just a small handful of people. Maybe the pressies should read what they publish.
The other day, Automotive News published the following:
“Dozens of U.S. cities are willing to buy $10 billion of electric cars and trucks to show skeptical automakers there’s demand for low-emissions vehicles, just as President Trump seeks to review pollution standards the industry opposes.”
This slurry of dishonest or simply idiotic “reporting” is stupendously revealing – all the more so because it is representative of the norm. Where to begin?
Let’s work from the back since the worst lie – and that is exactly the correct word – squats toward the end of this vile dreck:
Why are the most

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