In my “Big Changes are on the Horizon” Post, I outlined a detailed plan for what I was changing in the new year, and what I wanted to accomplish with this blog. First, I was getting rid of some services that I either didn’t need anymore or was changing to the point where using them was no longer viable. Case in point: Flickr had changed it’s Free User photo limit to 1,000 photos, and Visual Society simply wasn’t working for me anymore. So I backed up my Flickr account and finally closed it down after 2 years. Then, I closed down my Visual Society account.
Next, I decided to create three-pronged social media strategy leveraging my already up-and-coming Instagram account, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page. I’m happy to say that I have both Twitter and Facebook up and running and interconnected with each other! If I make a post (like this one) here on Corkscrew’d, then WordPress will automatically push a notification to both Twitter and Facebook with a link to a post. My Instagram account is now also set up the same way.
Lastly, the final phase of the New Year plan is to upgrade the Corkscrew’d site to a Business plan, and then build an internal print shop where you could buy prints or downloaded copies of my best shots. Today, I’m absolutely thrilled to say that Corkscrew’d is officially on a Business plan! The final thing to do now is to find a suitable plugin for selling prints and downloads of photos.
The finish line is in sight! Now for the final push!
There’s something about the pseudo-vaporware All-American Supercar that just stays with you. Is it the wild carbon-kevlar body? The movable aerodynamic surfaces? The three-across seating arrangement? Maybe it was the use of aeronautical technologies, like the aerospace-grade bolts? Or, maybe it has more to do with the massive 7.0L Twin Turbo V8, making somewhere between 600-1200 horsepower? The Vector WX-3 is all and none of these things; alongside the WX-3 Roadster, the WX-3 ended up being a footnote in American automotive history thanks to a hostile takeover by Indonesian automotive firm Megatech in the 90’s. But for a time, it seemed that WX-3 was ready to take the supercar market by storm and put America at it’s forefront. And yet, it was largely forgotten as Vector simply phased out of the public eye and occupied that space where broken promises and failed dreams go. You know; like most things in the 90’s. It seems sort of ill-fitting then, that such a machine is being auctioned off for Lexus LFA money.
RM Sotheby’s recently listed the Vector Avtech WX3 and WX3 Roadster on their website, and now, I’m suddenly reliving my early childhood playing Gran Turismo 2 and racing in Red Rock Valley with my trusty red Vector W8 Twin Turbo. It was one of my favorite cars in the game thanks to its futuristic (to me) looks and massive horsepower (in game, you could upgrade the turbos to put out 800+ horsepower), and high top speed (240+ miles per hour). As far as I know, the last time you could drive a Vector in a video game was in Gran Turismo 2; unless you count the modded cars you could add to Need For Speed High Stakes. That being said the last time Vector was ever mentioned again was in 2007, when Vector announced the development of a new car; the WX-8. In fact, the WX-3 prototypes are being sold partly to fund development of the new Vector supercar.
First offered for $3.5 million for both prototypes, RM Sotheby’s have listed the lot for $450,000-$550,000. One has to wonder if this is because the name “Vector” is pretty much synonymous with “vaporware”; a conceptual product that’s always being advertised, but never available to buy. In fact, that last time the new Vector WX-8 was even mentioned was several years ago, with no road going versions sold yet (that we know of).
Even so, the WX-3 and 3R are absolutely bonkers. Finished in the famous Jazz-pattern Solo Cup colors of Teal and Fuchsia, both cars are an insane amalgamation of styling cues; from the influence of other wedge-shaped sports cars from the 70’s (the original Vector W2 was heavily based on the Alfa Romero Carabo Concept Car from 1968), to the organic shapes and styling cues that defined the 90’s. But, styling is nothing compared to the unique combination of automotive and aerospace technologies present in the WX-3
What made Vector’s cars famous was their use of aerospace materials and technologies, including aerospace-grade bolts to hold the aluminum honeycomb monocoque together, and the use of carbon-Kevlar composite for the body. However, nothing was more in-your-face then the inclusion of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon’s Multi-Function Display Unit, modified to give you information readouts from the cars numerous sensors, and featuring a graphical representation of the car! And if that wasn’t enough, the WX-3 and 3R also used a unique, left-handed shifter arrangement meant to emulate the throttle on a jet-powered aircraft. Granted, the shifter was linked to an ancient Oldsmobile TH-425 Three-Speed transaxle, but still. And of course, you could entertain your wife, and your girlfriend with the three-across bench seat, and Sony 6 Disc CD Changer; assuming they can get past just how massive that windshield actually is (Vector once held the record for largest production windshield ever made)!
The WX-3 prototype first debuted with the same 6.0L Rodeck Twin Garrett Turbocharged V8 that was first used in the Vector W8 Twin Turbo, but when the WX-3 was reintroduced at the Geneva Auto Show in 1993, Vector had managed to squeeze in their 7.0L Rodeck V8, twin-turbocharged to 1000 hp! Despite being mated to a sluggish three speed transaxle, the car’s projected top speed was around 250 miles per hour; 12 years before Bugatti debuted the legendary Veyron.
With this combination of aerospace technology, insane looks, and massive horsepower, The Vector WX-3 is essentially the optimism of the 1990’s distilled into a single, high-speed form. It really is a shame that this car never got the chance to go into production, as Megatech locked company founder Gerald Wiegert out of his own building during the hostile takeover, and Wiegert countersued to prevent Megatech from building the WX-3 twins. Instead, we got a rebodied Lamboghini Diablo in the form of the Vector M12. In the end, Megatech also failed with their approach, as the slow sales of the M12 failed to keep the lights on, but not before Megatech tried to rectify the situation with a modified GM LT1 V8-powered version of the M12 dubbed the SRV8.
Still, it’s nice to imagine how the Vector WX-3 could have redefined exotic cars in the 1990’s, and rival other legendary cars like the Jagaur XJ220 and the McLaren F1. And for around $500,000, you could have two!
…or is it just the sex appeal of those five spoke “Teledial” wheels on the 2000’s Alfa Romeo 156?
I have a fondness for wheels with simple geometric shapes. It must be because one of my first car obsessions; the 1990 Lamborghini Diablo. The wheels on that car had a simple five spoke design that consisted of basically a solid wheel with five circular holes cut out of it. It was so simple, when I sketched cars in my composition book during class, I always drew those wheels. In fact, I still do!
Recently I was chewing the fat with one of my best friends, and the subject of wheels came up. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting something a little more eye-catching for my Shinsen Miata, but finding wheels that I think look better than the stock five-spoke alloys is easier said than done. I could do what everyone else is doing and buy some JDM-style rims, but that option can get pretty pricey. Plus, I’m not exactly standing out at any Cars and Coffee events since there’s always a Miata with JDM rims anyway.
I started to lament that there weren’t a lot of aftermarket options that looked like my ideal design. I’d love to put Teledial-style wheels on the Shinsen, but my options were severely limited. Then, I had a thought: Why not look at used wheels from cars that used the Teledial design? I started doing more research, and almost immediately I found the ideal wheel.
And it belongs to a car never sold in the USA.
The (near) Perfect Wheels
Alfa Romeo has been using the Teledial-style wheel designs for decades, especially most recently in their current lineup of US-import vehicles. Of course, those newer wheels are pricey and too big for my diminutive Miata. Thankfully, Alfa Romeo made a 16-inch wheel that is nearly identical to the Miata’s stock wheels, and they’re pretty inexpensive (not factoring shipping)! The 2003 Alfa 156 and 147 had the option of a lightweight aluminum wheel with five circular “Teledial” spokes, and they look gorgeous. Aside from being based on a classic Alfa design, the treatment of the wheels is also nearly identical to the Miata’s, so they aren’t gaudy or too distracting like some other wheels I’ve seen.
I dug deeper trying to learn as much as I can about these particular wheels. I was worried that the wheel size and the lug pattern was too different from the stock Miata wheels to even consider as a replacement, but then I stumbled across Wheel-Size.com; a massive database for wheel fitment and tire sizes. With it, I was able to find the the exact specifications for both my Shinsen Miata’s Wheels, and the Alfa Romeo Teledial Wheels:
2003 Shinsen Miata 1.8L 5spd:
Wheel Size: 16in x 6.5in J
Lug Pattern: 4x100mm
Center Bore: 54.1mm
Tire Size: P205/45R16
2003 Alfa Romeo 156 1.6L-2.5L
Wheel Size: 16in x 6.5in J
Lug Pattern: 5x98mm
Center Bore: 58.1mm
Tire Size: P205/55R16
As you can see, not only is the rim size practically the same, but the Offset, Center Bore and Tire Size are incredibly similar! The only drawback to these wheels however is the lug pattern. Instead of the 4 lug, 100mm diameter pattern, Alfa Romeo utilized a 5 lug pattern 98mm in diameter. This means that if I were to find these wheels somewhere, I would need to rely on a PCD Wheel Adapter that changes the lug pattern from 4x100mm to 5x98mm. And that’s even if I find the wheels; because Alfa Romeo never sold this car in the states, all examples of this particular wheel is sold overseas. That means more shipping costs!
Alas, it might be more trouble than it’s actually worth. Still, I’d like to imagine how surprised people would get when I roll up with a Shinsen Miata using Alfa Romeo rims!
…is having to make sacrifices. In my last post, I outlined my new plan for Corkscrew’d moving forward through 2019. Because of changes in the services I use to share and backup my photos, I’m now planning to consolidate everything I do on this website and utilize a few select social media services. Unfortunately, this also meant cutting services I’ve used for years; Flickr being one of them.
As of this writing my Flickr account has around 10,000 photos dating back to 2016, when I first started borrowing a camera from work to pursue photography as a hobby. In a way, my Flickr albums work like a sort of time capsule where I could instantly travel back to when the photo was taken, and what my life was like then. It’s frankly amazing how far I’ve come in just two years! Alas, things change and I simply need more from my social media.
Back in 2016 when I started my Flickr account, I needed a cheap and easy storage solution for backing up photos. This was a hard lesson to learn, as the catalyst for me looking for this solution was the death of a massive three terabyte hard drive filled with a few hundred photos, including ones I took at the Porsche Rennsport Reunion V in 2015. After getting another hard drive and rebuilding my lost files from random portable storage drives, I began looking for an online solution that doubled as a way to showcase my photos.
At the time, Flickr was owned by Yahoo, and by creating a Yahoo account you would be able to get one terabyte(!) of free storage. Combined with Flickr’s powerful photo organization tools and sharing options, it was a no-brainer. I began uploading photos after my latest excursion to Laguna Seca for the 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.
9,199 photos later, and my Flickr account had become an impressive repository of images of automotive culture in the Bay Area. Not only that; you can see my evolution from a hobbyist photographer borrowing a camera on the weekends, to a professional with an obsession for capturing panning shots. Additionally, Flickr made it very easy to share photos from my Flickr account to other social media sites like Instagram. Flickr essentially became the storage solution for my needs, without breaking the bank.
Why leave now?
As I said in my last post, Flickr was acquired Smugmug and is now limiting its free accounts to 1000 photos. In order to keep my current collection of photos, I would need to cough up an extra $50 a year for the Pro account and get unlimited storage. Honestly, it seems like a good deal for what Flickr Pro can offer, but I think cutting that cost and refocusing on my blog is a better use for the cash. This is especially true since that money could go toward upgrading my WordPress account to a Business plan and creating my own “in-house” print store, which was also something I was toying with in my last post. Also, My Instagram is far more effective at bringing new readers to my blog, as I’ve set it up to cross post to Facebook, and I have plans to integrate it with more social media accounts. And since Instagram also works as image storage, Flickr is more or less redundant for me.
Should I leave Flickr too?
Here’s the thing: if I were using only Flickr, I think that $50 a year is actually a very good deal for what’s offered. With the Pro account, you get Unlimited Storage, Analytics, Ad-free browsing, and discounts for other services like Smugmug. You could even advertise your business on Flickr and link directly to a shopping cart for your own online store. Lastly, Flickr has the advantage of having an established community of longtime users, so your uploaded work could potentially get some exposure.
In the end, I think the decision to leave Flickr or to keep using it is purely based on what your budget is and what you’ll primarily use it for. Since I’m only using it for image storage and basic sharing, I find it hard to justify the new costs. However, if you’re looking for a way to get started into photography and join an already established community, $4 a month isn’t that bad.
So, farewell Flickr. It’s been enlightening.
UPDATE: My Flickr has officially closed down on Jan. 4th 2019. If you want to see my photos, check out my Instagram at www.instagram.com/corkscrewd, or just check out my Portfolio!
…And that means it’s time to reflect on the year and recognize ways to improve! This new year, I’m going to make big changes to the website and how I share my work. This past year, I’ve been using a four-prong approach to share my photography and try and get more exposure:
Corkscrew’d: My blog was created as a way to showcase my best work as a portfolio, with an added bonus for being able to write a blog. Lately though, I’ve been using it more as a blog since things are pretty slow during the winter season.
Flickr: My Flickr account serves as an online repository for most of my photos, and it makes it easy to share my photos on Instagram.
Instagram: Instagram makes it very easy to share my photos, and currently, it’s the most effective way to bring more people to my blog.
Visual Society: Visual Society is a great way for beginning photographers to post some of their work and then make a profit. One of their trademarks is giving independent photographers 90% of the profit from their own sales.
So far a few things have stuck, and others haven’t. So in the spirit of improving for the next year, I’m coming up with a new plan to share my work and get more exposure (and more sales)!
The New Deal
So a few things are guiding my new plan:
First off, Flickr is changing its business model from one terabyte of free storage, to only 1,000 photos for free accounts. This is because Smugmug acquired Flickr and is doing away with a lot of free services in order to bring more quality photographers to the platform. Frankly, it seems like another money-making scheme to me, but it’s hard to argue their logic. Secondly, Flickr isn’t as effective as Instagram for sharing my photography and bringing viewers to my portfolio. In fact, I only ever use Flickr to share my photos to Instagram anyway. Flickr also requires me to manage and carefully curate my photo selections into albums; something I already do with this website. It seems to me that Flickr is essentially redundant.
Next is my Visual Society Portfolio. As of today, I’ve only ever made a handful of sales for my Visual Society account, despite it making a profit of 90% of all my sales. However, the Plus plan only gives me three gigabytes of storage for my photos, so I have to constantly curate my collections and remove older ones. Since I’ve barely broken even on the website, it doesn’t make sense to me to continue using it.
Considering the above, my new plan is this:
Remove my photos from Flickr and close the account: Sadly, I’m going to have to close my Flickr account. Adobe Lightroom’s integration with Flickr made it very easy to publish photos for sharing on other social media platforms, but with the new plan eliminating a lot of free features, it doesn’t make sense for me to continue using it, especially since my Instagram is doing the same thing and attracting more people to the blog.
Cancel my Visual Society subscription: Visual Society unfortunately never fulfilled my needs, though it was simple to make a few sales with it. I just don’t see myself continuing with the service into the next year.
Upgrade Corkscrew’d to a Business plan, then add a dedicated shop: With my Flickr and Visual Society accounts closed, I can upgrade Corkscrew’d to a full Business plan, which allows me to add an online store for downloading photos and ordering prints. In addition, I would have unlimited storage for photos, videos, and other media. Lastly, I’d be able to use specialized plugins for the blog, expanding its capabilities further.
All of the external circumstances are pointing toward me making Corkscrew’d a one-stop-shop for my own blogging, photography portfolio, and print shop, with my Instagram acting as my main social media account. Personally, I like this solution since I wouldn’t have to worry about managing multiple websites and making different versions of the same photo.
Going forward, I think this is the best way to start the new year and get serious about what I want to accomplish with this blog!
Lotus is reportedly making plans to create a 1000HP Hybrid Hypercar…
Is it just me, or does that statement seem kind of…wrong?
I know more than a few people that own a Lotus sports car. I also know a handful of people that have more than one Lotus. When I asked them what got them into Lotus in the first place, the most common answer is “Because they drive like nothing else.” Any Lotus is the culmination of a single ideal: to create a sports car that enforces the connection between man, machine, and the open road. To drive a Lotus is to eschew modern amenities for the sake of an unparalleled driving experience; without unneeded distractions, the need for more horsepower, and a high price tag.
In other words, Colin Chapman said it best when it came to designing his cars: “Simplify, then add lightness.” A 1000HP Hybrid Hyper-Lotus then, would be the exact opposite of what a Lotus should be.
When the Chinese automotive giant Geely purchased a controlling stake in Lotus back in 2017, a lot of Lotus owners held their breath. What would Geely do now that they controlled a small British sports car company with deep racing roots? Most feared that Geely would pivot Lotus from a boutique sports car maker into something that wouldn’t have stayed true to the brand, and Colin Chapman’s ideals.
However, with the introduction of newer and more powerful models of their current line up (including the fastest road-going Lotus ever, the Evora Sprint 430), most of those fears were abated. Recently, Geely announced plans to make a super SUV that utilizes Lotus’ suspension technology and tuning techniques, likely to be introduced as a vehicle under another marque within the Geely portfolio: Volvo. While that’s all fine and dandy (there have been cars with Lotus-tuned suspensions before, like the ill-fated DeLorean DMC-12), Lotus announcing that they are beginning development on a $2.2 million hypercar with a hybrid drivetrain seems to be a slap in the face of the brand itself.
When is a Lotus not a “Lotus”?
Lotus has never been a super-exotic car marque like Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, or even Bugatti. Anyone can learn to drive one without breaking the bank: Lotuses are not that expensive compared to other marques to own and maintain, and they have a cult following of like-minded and esoteric individuals who are simultaneously cocky and super-friendly (“Nothing drives better than a Lotus! Jump in; I’ll show you!”).
On top of that, Lotus cars are designed to follow Colin Chapman’s philosophy right down to the nuts and bolts. If a part is unnecessary, it’s tossed in an effort to save as much weight as possible. And with a lightweight car, minimal amounts of power is needed in order to create a sporty driving experience. This was how the legendary Lotus Seven was created. It was essentially a go kart with some creature comforts like lights, electric start, and not much else. Therefore, if Geely does create a Lotus hypercar with an electric hybrid drivetrain making over 1000HP, it can be argued that it’s no longer a Lotus since it’s such a large departure from what Lotus should be.
The “Lotus” Alternative
Instead of spending ridiculous amounts of money developing a one-off hypercar with an electric hybrid powertrain, why not refocus on developing a lightweight car designed to take an existing electric powertrain? Several car companies have already used the Lotus Elise as a template for a sporty, fully electric car, including Detroit Electric’s SP:01, and the original Tesla Roadster. However, the design limitations of the Elise chassis meant that the hardware had to be designed around the body. This meant that room for the AC motors and the battery packs were severely limited, which translated to lower ranges for these electric sports cars.
Instead, Lotus could use existing hardware, and then design a lightweight chassis to house the powertrain. In fact, Lotus has always used off-the-shelf parts for developing the engines for their sports cars. The engines used in the Elise, Exige, and Evora are all Toyota engines with Yamaha-tuned top-ends. What’s not to say that Lotus couldn’t take the engine and drivetrain from the Prius Hybrid, lighten the engine and the battery pack, and then wrap the whole package in a new chassis design based on an existing product? Maybe Lotus and Geely could develop a faster, electric successor to the Elise, or even the Evora?
In the end, it all boils down to market share. Lotus has captured less than 0.01% of the European Market since 2001. Even if Lotus were to develop an electric sports car using existing technologies, then they would have to build to volume in order to recoup the the money spent in development. If that’s the case, then it does make sense to build a multi-million dollar hypercar.
That being said, Geely runs the risk of alienating the core fan base of Lotus by developing this proposed hybrid hypercar. Then again, if it does help Lotus recoup losses because of it’s minuscule market share, we’d all have to be content with Colin Chapman rolling in his grave.
Designed to skirt around engine size regulations, Kei Cars are an interesting by-product of Japan’s need for personal transportation. These JDM-only cars are as unique as the country itself, often with interesting features that we could only dream about in the North American Market. Because of the regulations that birthed these cars, Japan ended up with a widely diverse group of vehicles designed with a certain-size footprint, and a maximum engine capacity of 660 cubic centimeters (0.66 liters). The Autozam AZ-1 was Mazda’s sportier interpretation of these regulations.
Designed with a mid-mounted transverse 657cc Inline-3 motor making 63 horses, a fiberglass reinforced plastic body on a steel chassis weighing 1600 pounds, a 5-speed transaxle, and gullwing (!) doors, the AZ-1 had exotic looks and features in a minuscule package.
And I’ve got to have one.
Mazda only made about 4500 for the Japanese Domestic Market, but now that the car is more than 25 years old, you could legally import them into the United States and get them registered as a “gray market” import. In fact, there are several importers around the United States that would help you locate a foreign car, take care of the paperwork, and have the car shipped to you!
After some looking around, I found a pretty decent if not heavily used example with around 120,000 miles on the odometer, and some body modifications. For a rare JDM-only car, this doesn’t seem that much of a bad deal for around $7,300! These cars are appreciating though as they’re now past the 25-year import rule, so now it isn’t uncommon for seeing low-mileage examples fetch around $15,000.
One of the biggest issues I have with car design today is the fact that there is such an emphasis on efficiency and aerodynamics that most new cars are starting to look alike. I’m willing to bet that if you were to take all the popular sedans, de-badge them, and then line them up next to each other, it would be very difficult to tell them apart. In addition to the current design trends, you have the introduction of electric drivetrains, which further serve to drive the emphasis on efficiency. Coupled with the lowering popularity of manual transmissions, cars are starting to become more like appliances than actual objects of desire.
That being said, with the introduction of fully-electric drivetrains, the beginnings of a new trend are started to take hold. Manufacturers like Jaguar are making a bet: now that electric drivetrains are becoming more commonplace, why not revisit the classic designs of yesteryear? Jaguar introduced the E-Type ZERO, a special electric conversion of their famous Series 1 E-Type sports car in order to capture the burgeoning market of classic car design with modern electric technology. And now, a newcomer to this market has made itself known: the Comet.
The brainchild of TV personality and unabashed car enthusiast Ant Anstead, the Dowsetts Classic Cars Comet looks like something that could have easily been a world beating sports car in the 1960’s. With a design that evokes past sports cars from the golden age of car design, like the Aston Martin DB4, the Jaguar E-Types and D-Types, the Alfa Romero TZ2, and even the Maserati Pininfarina A6GCS/53, the Comet is already setting the car design world ablaze with its good looks and modern amenities.
Paired with the all-aluminum (or aluminium for our friends across the pond) 6.2L LS3 small-block V8 from Chevrolet, the Comet can reportedly accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in under four seconds, and look amazing while doing so. It seems a shame that it’s that fast; I’d rather just cruise on by and feel everyone’s gaze turn toward me! However, the rev-happy small block LS3 isn’t the only choice of drivetrain for this masterpiece of retro-futurism. Dowsetts also offers the choice of a fully electric drivetrain.
With this car, you can have all the looks of a classic golden age sports car, with the technology of today’s efficient electric drivetrains. Details are still pending on the final mechanical design of the car, however. According to Autoclassics.com, the debut car used a Tremec 5-speed transmission, a limited-slip differential, and a De-Dion-style rear end. This is likely to change with the introduction of the proposed electric drivetrain. Furthermore, the current mechanical setup is also likely to change as the car nears production. You could possibly have your choice of a 5-speed or 6 speed transmission later on, but this has not been confirmed.
The aesthetic mix of classic and modern is carried into the interior a mix of materials and surfaces. Paired with the classic-style wood-rimmed and airbag-less steering wheel, white face gauges, and supple quilted leather, is a mix of polished aluminum surfaces, buttons, and a touchscreen infotainment system. The end result is a fusion of truly retro-futuristic designs inside and out.
Is the Comet the latest example of a new trend of retro-futuristic car design? Hopefully the answer is yes; I’m starting to get tired of cars that look like soap bars!
More information on the Dowsetts Classic Cars Comet and Comet Barchetta can be found on Dowsetts Twitter and Instagram. The full website will be coming soon.