Tuesday , April 25 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

Hose Heroes?

4 days ago

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

8 days ago

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

14 days ago

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

26 days ago

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

28 days ago

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.
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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.”
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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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Trump Thinks Your Car’s Gas Mileage Is Your Business

March 17, 2017

The Clovers are aghast that Trump is threatening to do the unimaginable – and stop threatening the car companies with federal fuel economy fatwas (and add-on fatwas forbidding or restricting how much plant food – carbon dioxide – cars may emit).
He appears to be entertaining the horrible idea that the people who buy cars ought to be free to decide for themselves how much fuel economy matters to them – since they will be the ones paying for both the car and the gas. And – oh my god! – that this is really none of the business of the “concerned” scientists and other professional busybodies who regard their opinions and preferences as holy writ enforceable at gunpoint.
“We’re going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again,” said Trump.

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If Cars Are So Safe Thanks to the Gov’t

March 15, 2017

New cars are – supposedly – “safer” than ever. Right? That’s what the government has been telling us.
Each new fatwa – backup cameras, tire pressure monitors, all those airbags – forced down our throats accompanied by the ululations of the regulatory ayatollahs that they would make cars . . . safer.
But then the news. Motor vehicle fatalities are suddenly going up.
And not just a little bit, either.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety (there it is, again!) Administration, motor vehicle fatalities are up by 8 percent – and that’s for 2015, the most recent year for which complete data are available. Preliminary data for 2016 suggest an even sharper spike – possibly into the double digits.
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The Compliance Car

March 9, 2017

There’s a new model out you may not have heard about – the compliance car.
It’s a car that, for one reason or another, almost no one is willing to buy – and so must be given away at a loss.
Well, that part isn’t new.
From the Edsel to the Pacer to the Aztek, there have been errors of judgment – and marketing or design/manufacturing problems – that led to automotive belly flops. Cars that just didn’t do well. It happens.
But it wasn’t intentional.
That is the distinction between a belly flop like the Aztek – and a compliance car. The latter – the compliance car – is a car designed to fail. A car they know ahead of time won’t sell, that they’ll have to give away at a loss.
And they build it anyway.
And continue to build it.
Here’s the latest for-instance: The

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Apocalypse Avoided?

March 7, 2017

If this one thing happens, electing Trump will have been worth the bother.
It’s actually two things.
Trump’s EPA will be “revisiting” the Obama EPA’s last-minute fuel efficiency and emissions fatwas, hurriedly ululated just two weeks before the end of the Obama EPA.
It might just prevent a catastrophe worse than the implosion of 2008 – when two out of three of the Big Three went bankrupt. This time, the industry could go bankrupt.
The first fatwa would require every car company to build cars that average 54.5 MPG by the model year 2025 – irrespective of such banal things as what this will cost the people who have to pay for it all.
The Obama EPA’s imbecile reasoning – if taken at face value – is that the government decreeing cars must average 54.5 MPG will

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Silence of the Lambs

March 6, 2017

You’d think maybe he killed someone.
Oliver Schmidt is facing 169 years in prison.
Earlier this week, the 48-year-old German national was frog-marched before the judge who will preside over his coming criminal trail, shackled at the ankles and waist, wearing an orange, Hannibal Lector-style one-piece jumpsuit.
All that was missing, really, was the face mask.
That – and a victim.
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Schmidt is one of several VW executives implicated in the diesel “cheating” scandal. He is the former chief of the now-writhing-on-the-floor, hoping-for-mercy German car company’s Environmental and Engineering Center in Detroit. VW has thrown him – and six other executives and engineers – under the bus, having already agreed

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Close Your Garage Door!

March 3, 2017

Drive around almost any neighborhood and you will find homes with wide-open garages, expensive tools and equipment in plain sight . . . and no one around.
Tools are portable. Often, they come in their very own carrying case – with a handle and everything.
Anything on wheels – like a generator or air compressor – rolls.
A bold thief could just walk right up in broad daylight, grab your expensive set of Snap-On wrenches or your digital torque wrenches and say sayonara. Maybe a neighbor will notice but probably not. If the guy acts like he’s supposed to be there, most people assume it’s ok for him to be there.
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Bye-bye tools.
Garages are goldmines – full of easy-to-steal stuff that’s even easier to turn

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If Safety Mattered

March 2, 2017

In several objective ways, new cars are less “safe” than cars built decades ago.
A strong statement. One that probably seems ridiculous, too, given all the “safety” features new cars have that old cars did not – and also given the fact that new cars must pass a battery of crash tests before they may legally be sold to the public.
But “safety” is a slippery thing.
An analogy may help get the point across.
Battleships were considered virtually invulnerable; they had armor belts more than a foot thick in some cases. Then came naval aviation. And the air-dropped torpedo. One or two of these – a few thousand bucks each, maybe – could slide under a battleship’s armor belt (which generally did not extend below the waterline) and make short work of a billion-dollar

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Self-Driving Cars?

February 27, 2017

What does it mean when people talk about self-driving cars? We really ought to be talking about programmed cars.
And about who does the programming.
The “self-driving” car doesn’t decide for itself how fast it goes or what route it takes – at least, it won’t until it becomes an autonomous thinking machine, an artificial intelligence. We are not quite there yet.
So, in the meanwhile, who decides?
And it is a who – a flesh-and-blood someone (or someones). Guess what? It’s not you. This whole “self-driving” car thing is about taking you out of the driver’s seat. And putting someone else in control of “your” car.
Myths, Misunderstandings and Outright lies about owning Gold. Are you at risk?
That part stays the same. Nominal ownership. You will make the

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GM’s Newest Rip-Off

February 14, 2017

Renting is a much better deal than buying . . . for the landlord. You – the renter – never own anything. But you pay for everything.
This appears to be GM’s view of the future of cars, which it plans to rent to you rather than sell to you.
It’s actually sound policy – for GM – given the cost of new cars (not just GM’s) as well as the declining affection for cars, especially among those in the 35 and younger bracket – many of whom aren’t interested in ever owning a car but occasionally need one.
GM launched Maven – its in-house ride-sharing (renting) service last January in anticipation of a radically changing car market, one presaged by services such as Uber and Lyft. The difference here is that Maven is GM, while Uber and Lyft are simply

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A Tire Too Good To Be True?

February 10, 2017

You can’t inflate it – and you can’t puncture it. It always runs flat. Potholes don’t faze it – and there’s no possibility of bending the wheel because there isn’t one to bend.
That’s the hype for the non-pneumatic tire (NPT) and wheel – an integrated assembly made of a flexible polyurethane material formed into a spoked/honeycomb-like lattice around a central hub. The wheel/tire combo can deform with road imperfections and eliminates even the possibility of a flat tire, as well as the need to worry about keeping track of air pressure.    
Some lawn mowers, golf carts and commercial equipment such as skid steers already have NPT tires – and the military uses them on rough terrain and in hostile conditions, where a flat tire can be more than just a hassle.

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America’s Exotic Car

February 8, 2017

The Corvette used to be America’s sports car. It will soon be America’s exotic car.
Something gained – maybe something lost.
The next one – on deck for 2019 – will apparently be mid-engined, exotic in itself and certainly by Corvette-historic standards. The pushrod/two valve V8 will still be there, of course – one assumes – but beyond that and the name, what else will this Corvette have in common with all the ones that came before?
Very little.
Probably this will also include the car’s price.
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It is already high. Not yet quite exotic (six figures being the watermark) but. . . . getting there. The current car’s base price – $55,400 – is still a steal compared to what

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Strong Passions Can Endanger the State

February 6, 2017

Strong passions can erupt in unpredictable ways.
The government understands this – and desires that strong passions be diverted in a harmless – to the government – way.
Enter the cultivated, culturally and socially enforced obsession with organized, mass spectacle sports.
Fuuhhhhhtttttball especially but also the others.
These games – a new one to keep people busy almost every day, year-round –  are not so much “bread and circuses,” as they are often called. They are the vivification of the fictional Two Minutes’ Hate in Orwell’s 1984. A means by which the passions – the frustrations and anger of men in particular – are diverted and dissipated.
In order that they aren’t directed at anything important. 
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A Tale of Two Cities

January 27, 2017

In Washington, President Trump announced that environmental regulations are “out of control” – and promised to get them back under control.
In Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo (which sounds about as French as fries) has issued a fatwa banning diesel-powered cars built before the model year 2001 – and is hoping to ban them all the way through the model year 2005.
That’s 32 million cars (14 percent of the vehicle fleet) rendered economically obsolete by legislative edict. Imagine if you owned one of those 32 million. Your car now worthless to you.
Or to anyone else.
A similar thing would no doubt have occurred in Washington had the election gone a different way. It turns out they do have consequences; your vote does matter.
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Great Car Engines, RIP

January 19, 2017

Several of the most successful car (and engine) designs were successful because they were around for a long time. The original VW Beetle is an example and so is the small block Chevrolet V8.
Both were in continuous production for decades.
For generations.
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Beetles were still being produced (in Mexico) until the early 2000s in largely the same basic form and layout as when the first one was paraded before Der Fuhrer in the mid 1930s. And Chevy’s small block V8 outlasted Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush senior. The same basic engine that was installed in ’55 Chevys was still being installed in new Chevys as recently as just a few years ago (and the current GM “LS” V8 shares many of the

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It Makes My Teeth Hurt

January 17, 2017

At the Detroit Auto Show reveal of the soon-to-be-produced hybrid Ford Mustang, marketing manager Mark Schaller said the following: “The world has figured out a way to take that technology and use it for performance… that will be the way we use that technology for this car . . .  it’s not meant to be a hyper-miler car; Mustang is all about having fun while you drive.” (Italics added.)
And the trained seals clapped.
But, excuse me, please. If the object of this exercise isn’t mileage then why go to the trouble? I mean, what is the point, exactly?
To show it can be done?
Like the pyramids?
A hybrid drivetrain makes no sense except as a way to reduce the amount of gasoline a vehicle burns. In other words, to make it more economical to drive. 
A second

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But There’d Be No Roads

January 9, 2017

Along with the Myth of Authority – the idea that being ordered about by other people is legitimate so long as those people have given themselves titles or wear uniforms – there is this idea that absent government, we’d never have things like roads.
Much less plowed roads.
It snowed hard over the weekend and I got to thinking about it as I watched the government plow trucks do their thing.
They do it very expensively.
It seems “free,” of course. The trucks rumble by and you aren’t sent a bill . . . for that. But you’re sent a bill – via the IRS, via your state-level IRS – for many other things, most of which (unlike roads and plow trucks to clear them when it snows) you probably don’t use, don’t want and – quite reasonably – would therefore rather not have to

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Kill People, No Problem

January 6, 2017

A VW engineer may be going to prison – and has already been professionally (and probably personally) ruined… for having “cheated” the EPA. Which is like expelling a picked-on kid who outsmarted the playground bully.
Which, of course, is what often happens now.
Whether it’s the schoolyard bully – or the EPA (or other “agencies” of Uncle) – we are supposed to take it, never resist it – and may the motor gods have mercy upon you if you ever “cheat” it.
The engineer’s name is James R. Liang. He’s worked for VW since 1983, but not anymore. Bye-bye career (and pension) and hello Federal prison. Which he’s facing on account of having been a member of the engineering team that developed “defeat” software for VW’s TDI diesel engines. The software made the engines

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Laws Don’t Apply to Heroes

January 2, 2017

Here’s a video documenting another case of law enforcers not enforcing the law… on law enforcers.
A man who had been issued a ticket – that is, ordered to hand over a sum of money as punishment for violating the law requiring both a front and a rear license plate – went to the local police department parking lot, where he video’d several vehicles without front license plates (and one – a Chevy Tahoe – with no license plates at all) but no tickets being handed out.
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[embedded content]
A law enforcer was present, so the man approached him to ask why he wasn’t doing anything to enforce the law which was enforced without mercy on him. As they talk, the SUV with no plates at all starts up and leaves.

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Driving Under the Influence

December 30, 2016

An interesting case out of California (of course) has a man being prosecuted for “driving under the influence”… of caffeine.
Joseph Schwab was pulled over by a California cop – an Alcoholic Beverage Control cop – who accused him of cutting her off and driving “erratically.” Like a dentist in search of cavities to help him cover the cost of his new boat, the ABC cop was determined to pin some kind of DUI charge on Schwab, even after he took and passed a Breathalyzer test that measured (cue Dean Wormer from Animal House voice) zero point zero alcohol in his system.
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So she carted him off to the clink where his blood was drawn (no doubt against his will; the Fifth Amendment being as null as the Fourth) to test for

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Things You Should Never Do

December 21, 2016

A good mechanic often has the scars to prove it. My friend Tim – a professional mechanic with years of experience – just acquired a new one the other day. While removing a bolt from a hard-to-get-at place, a jagged edge caught flesh and took a good sized chunk out of his ring finger (ironic, given he is in the final stages of a divorce).     
This kind of thing happens if you wrench long enough. Or even soon enough. Which it probably will, if you don’t avoid some of these common mistakes:
* Using a tire jack to raise the car … and then getting underneath the car –
This one can cost you more than the tip of a finger.
The jack that came in the trunk your car is for emergency use only. To change a tire only. And even for that, it’s sketchy. Jacks-in-the-trunk

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Buying Diesel?

December 15, 2016

Is it still a good idea – from an economic point-of-view – to buy a diesel-powered car?
The answer’s no longer as clear-cut as it used to be when the answer was an unqualified yes. When diesel engines were simpler, cheaper to operate and more durable than gas engines.
When their mileage was much better – and diesel fuel much cheaper.
Diesel engines had fewer parts; they were (and still are) compression-ignition engines, so no spark plugs to wear out and tune-ups were a non-issue because there wasn’t really anything to tune. As long as the injector pump worked, the engine usually ran.
And it ran for a long time.
Hundreds of thousands of miles, usually without needing major work during that time. This longevity was a function of both simplicity (fewer parts,

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Sick and Evil

December 10, 2016

There is nothing wrong with insurance … provided you can say no to it. Then it’s like any other thing you choose to buy.
Whether it makes sense to buy it – a subjective value judgment, by the way – isn’t the point. Exercise makes sense, too.
The point is – or should be – if insurance is something you want, or feel the need of – then you have the right to choose to buy it.
What you haven’t got is the right to force others to buy it – and thereby take away their free choice.
Insurance at gunpoint is dark and vicious. Anything that involves pointing guns at other people (who haven’t pointed a gun at you first) is necessarily a dark and evil thing. Someone – it doesn’t matter which specific individual does the wet work – is threatening to harm you unless you

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