Save the Bentleys


The great British marques aren’t what they once were.  Who owns Bentley?  The Germans.  Rolls Royce?  The Germans. Mini Cooper?  The Germans. Jaguar? The Indians (but before that it was owned by a company known for its fondness for Germans). Same with Land Rover.

But should this English failure of will be used as an excuse to turn pretty decent British cars into rolling horror shows?  Exhibit B:


Yes, that is a perfectly innocent Bentley GTC that’s been turned to shit by another celebutante.

I am not entirely sure who Kim Kardashian is or why she should be allowed to make pronouncements about anything.  All I know is that she has also done this to a perfectly innocent Range Rover.


Please understand – I think Range Rovers are some of the dumbest vehicles on the planet.  Few people besides researchers in remotest Africa really need them. Adding racing slicks and pink badges makes them even sillier.


If I hadn’t totaled my hatchback Pinto, I’d still love it. Much more than the sliding-sunroof Beetle, which had a peculiar tendency to collect rainwater inside the roof. Especially if you parked it nose-up in the uphill driveway. Back it down to the street, level it out, and last night’s storm spilled into your lap.


Guess that would make it my fault, but I wasn’t about to give up my self-installed backseat stereo system.

@nojo: You had a hatchback Pinto. I had a hatchback Vega. HA!

@AARPrick: And I later had a hatchback Chevette. I drink your gastank.

@nojo: A Chevette isn’t a car, it’s a sentence.

@AARPrick Vega: @nojo Chevette: I apologize for not stopping to help either of you when I saw you broken down by the side of the road. The cloud of oil smoke you created made it so I didn’t see you until it was too late to stop.

@blogenfreude: Suited me fine until the floorboard rusted out. In Eugene, you don’t need to do much more than drive to the store and back. Give me four wheels and a stick, and I’m happy.

@nojo: Christ! Next you’ll tell me you had a Cadillac Cimarron. Did you own every shitty american car ever made? Is your Pacer still parked in the weeds behind the shed?

@nojo: Having been sentenced to 3 GM products (and having paid for upkeep on a 4th) I am not inclined to make a further investment. On the other hand, I might be fooled by a Camaro Z28 if they ever resurrect it.

@Ewalda: Let’s see, what am I leaving out…

There’s the 3-speed ragtop Jeep I had in high school. No security whatsoever — my friends loved to roll it around the parking lot when I was in class, leaving it where it was sure to be ticketed.

@Ewalda: Any minute now, someone will confess to a Gremlin.
@blogenfreude: Everything the Germans take over they turn into another boxy Mercedes-looking thing. Their whole design aesthetic (and I use the term loosely) is built around square, tank-like things.
My brother’s first car was a Camaro Z28. He was peeling out of the parking lot at his high school in KC, lost control, went off an embankment into the rocky bed of a creek some 15 feet below. He and his best friend, who was in the passenger seat, weren’t wearing seat belts and still walked away without a scratch. The cop who responded took one look at the car and asked the boys “Which one of you is James Dean?” He was arrested for reckless driving, had to go to court (an event my grandparents, who had of course bought him said car, flew in for) where his case was heard after that of one Miss Bunny, a tranny hooker who had been observed giving a blow job in a car. He still has nightmares, and has never cared for cars since.

@nojo: After the Vega I had a Mazda GLC which was the Japanese answer to the Chevette, then I was cool and got a S10…kindred spirits and all. After that I got a basic Chevy C1200 (silverado) pickup and 16 years and 330000 miles later its still ticking.

@Mistress Cynica: You can’t leave us like that. What happened to Miss Bunny?

@blogenfreude: Remember the screaming chicken pinstripe jobs on the Firebirds? Those were awesome.

@AARPrick: I had a 68 Monaco that was so twisted, so debilitated by age and abuse cops didn’t stop me because they knew anyone driving it would probably be making a step up if they were jailed and likely would be a threat to police and inmates. The car screamed, “Death wish driver. Nothing left to lose.”

@Mistress Cynica: Aw, I miss the old boxy cars – my dream is to one day have a butter-yellow boxy-ass Mercedes. To go with my Chanel suit and three-strand pearls and tiny, bitchy dog.

It matters not that I do not know how to drive. In fact, I so don’t know how to drive, that the man who administered the driving portion of my test wrote “shaky” on my report and would not give me my license until I promised him I would never get behind the wheel of a car again. But this does not matter. I shall have my butter-yellow Mercedes one day.

@blogenfreude: Wait. is the writing all over that first car HER DOING? It’s not, like, factory specs that no one Windexed off? I’m asking for serious.

@nojo: I drove a hatchback Pinto – blue with a white, vinyl rooftop. Thing is, it was my dad’s car. Yes, the same guy who later moved on to a 240Z and then a 280Z and ultimately his second wife.

My first car was a 78 hatchback Ford Fiesta, which a gf affectionately called the Fiasco. The 4 cylinder was so weak that you couldn’t install after market A/C, and I drove it down to Texas during a week of 105+ temps. The only “option” it had was an AM/FM radio, but I installed Radio Shack’s finest tapedeck. Learned to dry out my armpits and back during Texas summers (aka any month after February) by angling my arm just so out the window so the wind would go up one sleeve and out the other. After a year or so, the electrical system got so bad that whenever I needed the windshield wipers the horn would bleat in rythm to the wipers.

Sold the thing to the Austin fire department for $400. Did I mention it was red?

@Dodgerblue: I don’t recall the sentence, just the detective’s testimony that he observed Miss Bunny’s head bobbing up and down. After listening to that while seated by our grandmother, I’m frankly surprised that my brother didnt just enter a monastery.

Hooray! Shitty cars and tranny hookers!

Let’s see: we had a Pinto which died (naturally) on I95 when the OH was driving to Boston.

@Nabisco: I had a Ford Fiasco in Scotland when I was there on a visit and loved it.

@Ewalda: We had a Caddy Cimarron! And I loved to drive it. We got it second hand/old and when the chrome bits that were bolted to the body came loose, the OH would pry them from the car and throw them away. It was also given to making weird shrieking noises like it was haunted. But I loved the feel of it to drive. That too eventually died.

We had a Taurus. Unaware that it is the flagship auto of the white-trash fleet.

A fantastic Subaru hatchback with 4-wheel drive that I once drove through a blizzard to get to a show in New Haven. Took over five hours to get there from NYC and we arrived 15 mins after the curtain time. My understudy was in the car with me. It was fab.

We had a Rover in London which died. And a string of awesome Renaults.

Now we have a Prius with almost 150,000 miles on it. So far no sign of death.

@Mistress Cynica: I was going to ask if nightmares were about accident or hooker but I guess you answered that.

@RomeGirl: A classic Mercedes painted butter yellow would be pretty fab. Or a Citroen Pallas; one of the most beautiful cars ever made.

@Nabisco: I drove a hatchback Pinto – blue with a white, vinyl rooftop.

I believe we’ve established that you do not exist, but are merely my astral projection that steals my fucking cars when I’m not looking.

@RomeGirl: I haven’t a clue. If it was an ideal world I’d assume the writing was to point out high/low spots so someone could finish bodywork. I fear the truth is far more ugly.

@Mistress Cynica:
It could have been much worse. What if he crashed the car while Miss Bunny was plying her trade on him? Granny would have passed out in court, for sure.

@lentinus: There’s a story here in Northern New Mexico about a regionally famous musician named Eddie Roybal, of Eddie Roybal and the Larks. Need a wedding band? Eddie was your man. One Saturday night he was playing some shitty club north of a town we all make fun of called Espanola (the place where Los Blue Ventures can be found about two weekends a month). Ol’ Eddie was getting some Miss Bunny action from a fan out in the parking lot when a drunk hits the car, Eddie’s friend’s jaws close and Eddie is reduced to a stub, so the legend goes.

As a matter of verifiable fact, Eddie quit the ranchera/rock thing and became a lay preacher and Christian musician.

@redmanlaw: Straight out of scene in one of my brother’s favorite books, The World According to Garp.

As a teenager I drove a 1978 Ford Econoline van with a rainbow painted on a side. Porthole windows, 8 track deck, no A/C (wonderful for the Texas summers, as Nabisco pointed out). Carpeted floor, walls and ceilings and a bed that folded down in the back. My high school classmates mocked me and my sister endlessly about it but then each of them in turn would shut up after they and their significant other “borrowed my keys” for an hour during a party and lost their virginity in said van. More than a few people from my high school lost their virginity in the van (no, not all of them with me).

My dad finally sold the van in 1993 to a family of illegal Mexicans who paid him 400 bucks in ones and fives.

@SanFranLefty: In high school the car I drove (once in a while) was an Impala with black vinyl interior and no A/C. No wonder I couldn’t get a date during the summer.

@blogenfreude: Oy, the stickiness! At least with the carpeted Love Van, the most you had to worry about was rugburn.

Oh, and did I mention that half of the van was rusted out and my dad just sprayed over the rust with Rustoleum – so it was like half of a rainbow on the side. I will see if I have a photo of the van somewhere to contribute to the April Jam.

I am going to give my entire sexual/automotive history.

1977 Honda 50, circa late 60s. I never registered it, used to go “dirt biking” with it.

1978 Honda CB 350, 1973 model, vertical twin, I rode the hell out of it, commuted 50 miles each way to New Port Richy, only laid it down once.

1978 Ford Grand Torino Super Sport, 1973. 351 Cleveland Cobra Jet, 340 horsepower, four speed, 3/4 cam, a monster, I went through tires, it would smoke them in all four gears, that mattered, in high school. It was loud, when I came home late at night I would get up a head of steam as much as a half mile away from home, and coast all the way into the driveway, struggling with the dead power steering and brakes.

1980 Chrysler Cordoba, 1977, with rich corinthian leather, a piece of shit.

1982 Base model manual no air but brand new Honda Civic, it cost $4,900.

1985, base model but brand new Honda civic, hey, the payments were $99 a month.

1990, Honda accord Coupe. Boring.

1993, after first trial wife wrecked Accord, a chevy blazer. Never broke down.

1997, Ford F-150. Piece of shit.

2003 VW Jetta, diesel, 4 speed, 50 mpg, every day, all the time.
2005, VW Jetta, gas model, automatic, with the 60 mile commute I got tired of shifting, still 35 mpg, VW makes a fantastic car for the money.

2008 Toyota Rav-4 6 cylinder. Its a light vehicle, and with the 6-cylinder, its overpowered, it cannot handle its power, when you hit the gas, it gets squirelly, rises up on its wheels and starts trying to go left, right, everywhere, you have to seriously steer to keep control. The most fun car I ever had. the acceleration from 50 to 80 (passing dumptrucks on country roads, is amazing, scary. Most fun car I ever owned.

@blogenfreude: They don’t need to resurrect the Z-28, the current corvettes are the best vettes ever made, they give the german and italian cars that cost 5 times as a much a serious run for the money. A real bargain at $60,000, for a car with 500+ HP and a good suspension, not at all to be sneezed at, but not nearly as lethal as the Dodge Viper, which can kill you if you are not careful, so I hear.

@RomeGirl: I would love, just loooove, to own a well preserved late 80s, early 90s bigass Mercedes 500 series. Thats not a car, thats a land yacht.

My second, hell, now that I think, my first choice, would be an early 70s GM convertible coupe, the giant two-doors that GM made, with doors 14 feet long, when the top is down its like a swimming pool with seats in it. There was a pontiac version I especially loved, and of course, the classic Caddy, what was that monster front-wheel drive coupe called?

I’m a bit envious of those of you who drove monumentally crappy cars. My first car was a used ’63 Corvair Sport Coupe, which I loved, white with red bucket seat interior and four-on-floor. The floorboards were rusted out and you could see the road between your feet on the driver’s side. Snow/ice from the road would come up through the holes and accumulate on the floor. Since the heater didn’t work, it just piled up, turning to ice. If the weather didn’t warm up I had to chisel the chunks up to get rid of them. The oil pressure sending unit had been overtightened at one point, or screwed in crooked, or something, and it had stripped the threads in the aluminum engine block. No matter how often I’d shoot a helicoil into the block to fix the problem, it would blow out again eventually, and spew all the engine oil all over the highway behind me, stranding me in the oddest places. I think if I hadn’t driven the thing so hard it might have gone better, but I was 17. Anyway, after about 7 months of ownership, and 5 strandings along the Interstate, I finally decided I’d had enough. Besides, I gave my mother a ride once when her car was in the shop and her foot went through the floor (at least it wasn’t while we were flying down the road).
So, the Corvair had to go. I went and bought a used ’64 Beetle. Put adapter plates on it so I could mount Chevy rims with big fat tires. I have never been without at least one aircooled Beetle since 1969. The one I have now is a ’73 that has been in the family since 1975.
I bought a used ’95 Ford Escort wagon about 10 years ago, which I liked alot until it broke down on a 2-lane road in the middle of nowhere in Mexico.
Then in late 2001 I bought my only new car ever, a 2002 Jetta. I still have it, and I hate it, because it’s a piece of junk. I drive the old Beetle as often as I can. I’ll never buy another water-cooled VW.

@SanFranLefty: April Jam must include everyone’s old car pics.

Hmmm … let’s see if I can remember them all:
’72 Volvo 142S (turned into a parts car)
’75 MGB GT (died in a fire)
’72 Volvo 142E (parts recipient)
’69 Mercedes 250 (ate its camshaft)
’81 Buick Skylark (almost killed me)
’76 Mercedes 280E
’84 VW Jetta Turbodiesel (ate clutches)
’84 Olds Custom Cruiser (mit sunroof)
’87 Mercedes 300D (bought new)
’87 Toyota 4WD longbed (new)
’88 Toyota Camry Wagon (new)
’97 Ford SHO (demonstrator)

There might be a few more, but I’m in no position to recall. I bought and sold like a silly person.

@blogenfreude: MGBs had those big black bumper-car bumpers by 1975, right? Was yours that weird orange color with the big racing stripes, or was it BRG?

@Ewalda: Mustard color – pretty putrid. And yes – the delicate chrome bumpers had disappeared. But it had a sunroof that leaked.

@Ewalda: MGs and MGBs, I forgot about them, there was a kinda cult around them in the 70s.

I knew a lot of people who had one. My sister had an MBG in the early 70s that she bought new. I knew a lot of kids who were nursing an older one when I was in college, 80 to 85.

I never saw one, anywhere, that could get through a week without needing surgery. Everyone I knew who had one, it was always, always, ailing. Even my sisters brand new one, you simply never really knew if it would start. You had to worry every time you turned the key. Some fucking retarded British part that american cars didn’t even have in them, would go. And they are the only vehicles ever produced with a worse electrical system than an early Honda motorcycle, hit the horn, and the turn signals would go off, the wipers would break down all the time, you’d be driving around with a rag, reaching out the window to wipe the windshield, oh, MGs and MBGs, an adventure.

@blogenfreude: That sunroof was a “feature”. Those wily British Leyland engineers figured out that when you allow water to get inside the sheet metal, the body rusts faster than if you only allow water on the painted exterior. This was a major step forward in British automotive engineering, only surpassed by the advent, much earlier, of:
1) Smiths gauges, which tended not to work and thus were less of a distraction from keeping one’s eyes on the road, and
2) The safety feature of electrics which only worked intermittantly, thus discouraging driving during dangerous periods (ie, at night).

@Ewalda: Lucas electrics, which eventually caused the fire. I want to say VDO gauges, but I am probably remembering wrong given all the other foreign cars I’ve owned that I’ve forgotten.

Damn. Comments is eating comments again. I’m not going to retype it. Suffice it to say that I don’t think it would be that hard to design a wiring harness with proper insulation, and route it so it doesn’t rub against sharp edges.

@Ewalda: Jaguars improved measurably when they got Ford wiring harnesses. Say what you will about Ford (and I have, dammit, I have) but they can make a wiring harness.

@blogenfreude: 12 volt electrical shit is an art, I know from having a boat, its primitive. Weird shit happens, sudden loads affect every other circuit.

@blogenfreude: Mrs. DB’s Mom had an old Jag saloon. It was true what they say: grace, pace and space. The faster you went (not with her in it, of course) the more it hunkered down and the better it handled. I had a Volvo S80 T6 that was kinda like that except Ford forgot to install motor mounts that could handle the torque that thing put out. A friend who had the same car had the engine break loose on a crowded LA freeway; she was not amused, and now drives a Lexus.

@Promnight: Limey apologist.
Hell, even the Italians can make their electrics work.
Their motors and transmissions, not so much.

When my daughter was about to get her license, I took her aside and told her: “Someday, someone is going to try to sell you a car, and it will be the most beautiful and cute and exciting thing you have ever seen, and it will have been made in Italy, and you must promise me that you will run away from that deal as fast as you can.”

@Dodgerblue: I always wanted that Jaguar that Inspector Morse had. Gorgeous.

@Mistress Cynica: That was a beautiful car. I’m usually not fond of red cars, but that one is an exception. That particular car is still around, and is for hire to make appearances at ones special function. No John Thaw, alas. He and Jeremy Brett were so perfect for their respective BBC Mystery roles. I miss them both.

Wow, cars, that’s been a while. The last car I had was a 92 Honda Civic hatchback that I loved, but I started riding motorcycles and just kind of stopped driving the car, so away it went. Before that, I had an 84 Toyota Tercel with every option, including sunroof, AC, weird “sporty” seats, etc. Still had a little tiny engine, so it wouldn’t go that fast. Before that… I think I was in college, and was carless for a period. At one point I owned a ’64 Beetle that was a pile of junk. Some dipshit previous owner had installed these awful flared fiberglass fenders on it. I loved that car, but it wasn’t reliable enough to bring to college. I also had a VW Dasher Diesel, which I also loved, but I didn’t catch a burst coolant hose until too late on a rainy night, and it was never the same. Of course, it also could barely exceed 60 MPH in the best of health. Before that must have been the 78 Toyota Celica, and before that my first ever car, a 1980 Mazda GLC wagon that I crashed when my first ever passenger said, “Oh, turn left here!” and I did. From the center lane. Without checking for traffic. I have better impulse control now.

Now, of course, it’s all motorcycles, and I’ve gone on to the “smaller is better” school, and ride a 2006 Ninja 250 as my big bike, and am fixing up a 1973 Honda CL175 as my little around-town bike. Other motorcyclists tend to look at you funny when you say a Ninja 250 is your big bike. For most people, “big” doesn’t become a descriptor until about 1000cc. Of course, most of the time, I’m on a bicycle, so a 250 seems like a sizeable step up. Besides, in the 60s and 70s, a 250 was a big bike, and you didn’t get one until you’d put in your time on a 100-150cc bike first. Even the 175 was edging toward big, until some schmuck at Honda decided a 500 then a 750 would be a good idea. Americans do love their bigger-better-faster.

@IanJ: It’s shocking how 600s are considered “lightweight” bikes these days. My favorite motorcycle I ever owned was a ’74 Yamaha RD350, which I bought new. I was 5’8″, 140 lbs, and that little bike was the perfect pocket rocket. Those two Mikuni carbs would howl like banshees when you got past 5500 revs.

So I get up this morning, sit at my desk and what do I find? Limey bashing! Yay!

I yield to no man in my general contempt for things British but honestly, you Yanks are silly sausages. The whole notion of making the interior of a car soft and comfy is so wrong. That’s the kind of thinking that lost us India. Cars should be cold and cramped and prone to breaking down. Unless one is titled. Then it’s all Rollers and Jags. (Tip: When buying next car, the Roller has a map/glove thingy that’s the refect size for transporting splits of champagne. Useful to know). Anyone remember the Singer? Two seater coupes with a rag-top with all the substance of those chinese-made umbrellas one buys from felons on street corners. And a kind of hole to put your legs in. And a windscreen that opened at the bottom so you got a blast of air as you drove that prevented one from talking to one’s passenger. Unless you wanted a mouth full of bugs. You had to put on more clothes to get in the car than for walking about outside in.

Most elegant car I ever saw was a flannel-grey Roller coupe with a maroon pin-stripe. And the old police-car Citroen. I thought them very stylish.

@IanJ: Motor bikes scare me.

@Benedick: I rented a Renault 5 in Zagreb 1994 so I could drive to Slovenia and see Nirvana in what was their second to last show before Kurt’s demise. Woke up the morning of the show with the flu, couldn’t get the damn thing started and realized I didn’t have a ticket, was sick as a dog and hell, it’s not like Nirvana is going away anytime soon. That car was funny, and I ended up spending the day finding different sidewalks to park on, which is one of those features of European cities I absolutely love.

@Ewalda: I’ve actually ridden an RD350, although only briefly. It was scary.

And yes, it is terrifying that the 600cc supersport bike is now considered a “beginner bike.” Talk about a reason to be scared.

@Benedick: It’s worth being scared of motorbikes. They’re dangerous. I’m scared of them, just not paralyzingly scared. I take that fear and use it to shape my limits, which is one of the reasons I’m still alive and whole after 6 years of riding bikes daily, and another 3 of riding them when the bicycle isn’t fast enough or doesn’t go far enough.

@Benedick: Many VWs have the glovebox specifically engineered to chill a bottle of wine, there is a bottle-shaped depression in the bottom, and there is a vent directly connected to the AC system, you open the vent if you are putting a white in there, I suspect it would chill it perfectly. For reals. This is why some people worship VW as their personal God.

My parents’ cars got steadily less cool as I grew up–in the early 80s they sold this and bought this. And after that came the beige Volvo they got on the cheap because it had been through a hail storm and there were tiny dents all over the roof and hood. Not quite RomeGirl’s butter-yellow Merc, but just as boxy!

I’ve heard tell that my parents once drove a VW Rabbit, but the first car that I clearly remember was a Chevy Celebrity. My dream car — never mind the impracticality — is an El Camino.

I was always disappointed that cars like These never made it into production.
(Might have to wait for the page to load, but it’s worth it)

@flippin eck: This is what I drove as a senior in h.s., except it was red with fake wood paneling. It was a dream party vehicle: I could fit eight people in seats plus extras in the back, the rear tail gate folded down for needed beer-drinking perch, and there were actual nobs on the door locks so I could slide a coat hanger down and pop the lock whenever I left the keys in the ignition.

Worst POS car I ever had was a VW Squareback in the original faded orange. Cornering in that thing was frightful. To get over the Grapevine on I-5 from the Bakersfield side, I had to floor the thing about 5 miles out (pretty scary, just by itself) and hope the momentum would carry me far enough up that I could stay out of the far right lane where the loaded semis were crawling uphill. Didn’t always work.

@redmanlaw: Awesome. You could put your whole quiver of surfboards in the back with room for a big cooler.

Road trip up north in the 2000 Toyota Tacoma. The fishing gear i still in the back seat. My brother told me about 20 in rainbow trout in the Rio Grande, so I goota take a look.

Nine days until we Stinque up Santa Monica.

@Ewalda: I love the X-2000 concept — it’s got Star Trek Enterprise engine pods and everything. Back when The Future was going to be glorious, with moon bases and hover belts and flying cars.


Re: British electrics

Good old Joseph Lucas “Prince of Darkness” Electrics

His motto A Gentleman does not motor about after dark.

Of course you knew that….

67 VW Bug
68 VW Camper
76 Honda CJ 360
?? VW fastback
70 Opel GT
67 Harley Davidson Electraglide (Stock, later I stripped it down)
70 Opel GT
72 Volvo 164
88 Toyota 4Runner (New, still running 256k)
93 T0y0ta PU X-cab (New , still running 160k)
00 4runner for Mrs Fd (New, still running 115k)
93 Olds Cutlass Supreme Convertible
94 Olds Cutlass Supreme Convertible (what can I say? I like them)

my first car was the glorious muscle car, 1973 olds 442. this was what i drove around like a maniac in high school.
i have never confessed this before, it was a dark secret of my car loving soul, and i’ve had them all. FINALLY, i can let it go. FIST BUMP to nojo, bisco, and benedick. they waved goodbye to me in philly, driving to my freshman year of college in miami in a HATCHBACK PINTO. it was that special edition orange and white job. it was so groovy man. it ended up dying in deliverance, georgia at 4 am, my ex-boyfriend at the wheel. we had to stay at the bates motel while earl got us on the road again. my name is baked and i drove a pinto. i feel so much better now.

El Camino’s are very cool and still findable

OK, my last link for today. Anyone who loves those old “Popular Mechanix” type mags will spend happy hours at this site:
There are many categories to browse. One article that grabbed my attention was in the Robots section. From Jan, 1957: “You’ll Own “Slaves” by 1965”. I’ll bet many were disappointed when 1965 rolled around and they still couldn’t buy slaves.

@Ewalda: When I bought my little Honda 360, I test rode a Yamaha (RD?) …. wow… Sadly (or not), those quick two strokes were all done in by emissions laws. As for CC’s , I never thought much about it, In my redneck town, once you learned the basics on a small bike, you “stepped up” to a Harley.

@fupduk: I misspoke last night, mine wasn’t a ’74. My RD350 was the early 1975 model with the square pegs. It could be a handful because the power curve was very two-stroke peaky. At low RPM it putted along, but there was an abrupt kick in the pants as soon as you hit ~5000 rpm, and it just screamed up to 7500 RPM with very little provocation. It had great brakes for the time, too, so newbies had to contend with both easy wheelies and slamming brakes. 350-450 cc four-stroke Hondas were better suited for new riders. Getting rid of the stock tires and adding chambered exhaust and dropped bars made it a nice little racer. It just begged to be thrown around at high speed on back roads. I ground my pegs down from too much hard cornering. For years, there was a racing class just for the RD350/400 Yamahas, since nothing else within their displacement range could come anywhere near their performance. Maybe there still is, I don’t know.
It’s funny how bikes have gotten so much better in the handling department over the years. Most bikes of the 60s-70s were either squirrely or stiff, and some (I’m looking at you, Kawasaki 750 triple), were suicide machines. Today, they all handle very nicely (except Harleys, but those aren’t motorcycles, they are tractors with two wheels). Progress.


Today, they all handle very nicely (except Harleys, but those aren’t motorcycles, they are tractors with two wheels)

We fondly refer to them as “sleds”.

And you can handle them pretty well while stoned, or so I’ve heard….

@Ewalda: I’ve got to give the Harleys props, though, for slow-speed handling. For all that they look like they should be death-machines on a slow course, when I took my Experienced Rider Course (something I should do again soon), over half the class were on Harleys, and those bikes took the course with amazing ease. The one exception was the guy with the RUDE license plate, who had these big fat floorboards, and they’d scrape after about 15° of lean angle. It was funny to see him taking a curve at very moderate speed and throwing up a shower of sparks.

ADD: And I “cheated” on that class, by taking my Ninja 250 instead of the Moto Guzzi V11 Le Mans. To the doubters, I always say, “choose the right tool for the job.”

@lentinus: Apparently Eddie’s fan got a new nickname out of it, per a Los Alamos labs employee blog:

. . . remember the Eddie Roybal and [redacted] (“Jaws”), [redacted] at the time, event. She bit off more than she could chew.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous : 7/21/2005 12:51:00 PM

EDDIE ROYBAL. Lost his Johnson. I remember that story. Happened our in the parking lot back in the early 80s. The original poster should be catching on…..this place is better than a soap opera.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous : 7/21/2005 01:00:00 PM

@Prommie: I beg you to please learn how to use the tag helper to hide your linkies. I’ll give you a private tutorial off-line.


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