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VEHICULATE – Conversations About Exotic Cars and the Owners that Love Them – Part 3 of 4

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VEHICULATE – Conversations About Exotic Cars and the Owners that Love Them – Part 3 of 4

Posted on 12 July 2011 by admin

Harlyn Jenkins 2006 Maserati Portland OregonMaserati Quattroporte Sport-GT/Harlyn Jenkins

PART 3 OF 4 – WHY MODIFY

“Hey, yesterday was free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s,” Harlyn mentions as we roll past their ice cream shop on Hawthorne.

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Didn’t know that.”  I didn’t.

“Meant to post that on Facebook.  Meant to go to Ben & Jerry’s.  Did neither.  Spent 16 hours pulling wires through my car.”

WARNING: I should warn the reader that what follows is a transcript of Harlyn speaking in pure technobabble.  Skip down a few paragraphs unless you want to find out why he was pulling wires through his car, and have your brain hurt.

“[I’m doing a] full computer integration with NAV and entertainment, stereo upgrade, all that kind of stuff.  But it will be a full-blown Windows 7 PC running in the car using the stock screen as an interface with a touch-screen membrane overlay.  Which a lot of people are doing, I’ve just yet to see someone do a full-blown auto PC for the NAV tool.  There are much easier ways to do it, but this is more fun… There will be a few video output issues.”

I shake the glazed-over look off my face, “What do you mean?”

He continues, “Well I’m going from full DVI down to RCA,” and proceeds to explain this again in more detail.  I’m not sure how much longer this goes on but he begins speaking ‘automotive’ at some point, which is a language I am fluent in.

“We’re going to do a six-speed conversion to it, and it will either be supercharged or turbocharged.”  He says as plainly as if he announced he was going to the supermarket to buy canned food.

It’s not much of a secret that the early Maseratis with the DuoSelect automated manual transmissions had a habit of eating clutch plates.  For these cars, driving like a grandma (no offense intended to grandmas that drive briskly, especially ones that formerly owned a Maserati) would cause the plates to wear out prematurely.  The solution, as Harlyn figured out, is to drive the crap out of it, and has gotten more mileage out of his clutch than anyone else we know of as a result.

But when the clutch invariably wears out again, he’s going to convert it to a six-speed manual sourced from the earlier Maserati Coupé GT.  An idea presented to him by Mike, our Maserati technician, after he and a couple of other technicians training at Maserati of North America discussed the possibility over lunch.  At the time, Mike said, “I know a QP owner that might just do that.”

But the obvious question is, “Why?”

“Because I can.  Off the shelf never works for me.”  He gestures, ”That’s great but I’d like it to do this, this, and this… Well, let’s make it do this, this, and this.”

Because he can.

“I love open source software,” he says assuredly.  “I love some of the new open source hardware that’s going on.  Based on that philosophy, things should be able to be modified openly and freely.”

“Says the guy who cracked his iPhone.”  I fire back.

“Yeah, but everybody does that.  You go to one website and you slide your finger.”

“That’s easy.”

“So easy in fact, when you went into an AT&T store when Jailbreak first came out, they didn’t have all of theirs protected, you could do it to all of them in the store at once.”

“And you did that.”  I say, more as a statement than a question.

“Na, I’m saying you could do that,” flashing his habitual grin.

But modifications can be taken too far.

“Dude!” He says excitedly after brief break in conversation, “I saw a Toyota Yaris, slammed, with a big-ass exhaust on it the other day.  And I was like, you know, I’m all for modding vehicles, obviously… but… That’s one of those things that make me laugh, I’ll see a Honda with $130,000 worth of engine and suspension and bodywork and everything and I’m like ‘you realize you could be driving a [Ferrari] 360’?”

“Yeah, but does a 360’s wiper nozzles glow?”

“They could.  That’s a good idea.  Think I might have found my next mod.  Hot Pink!  Yeah right, I’d plug them in and I’m sure the NIT (Maserati’s central entertainment and navigation unit) would freak out and have some weird error code, ‘I’m sorry, you’ve riced your car, warranty void.’”

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Cascade Auto Accessories

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Top High-Tech Accessories for Your Car

Posted on 10 July 2011 by admin

Cascade Auto AccessoriesAs the technology industry continues to evolve by leaps and bounds, automobiles are increasingly being brought into the fold and integrated with things like smart-phones, digital music players and even new implementations and uses of GPS.  The top high-tech accessories for your car generally fall into three broad groups, each with their own impressive gadgets and advancements.

Mobile and Media Integration

What started with the iPhone has only continued to expand with the advent of Android phones and BlackBerry devices: the smartphone craze has arrived.  These phones do more than just make phone calls or send text messages: they play music, come loaded with applications, and have built in GPS and internet connectivity.

One of the most unique, and most helpful, uses of this new phone feature set is the Viper SmartState vehicle location system.  SmartStart is built into a car’s security system and communicates with GPS satellites to help users locate their misplaced car — and in a big parking lot, that can make all the difference.  But it goes even further, allowing users to unlock the trunk, lock or unlock the doors, and even remotely start the car so that it’s pre-heated or pre-cooled upon arrival.

Then there’s the Parrot Asteroid Car Receiver, which allows drivers to play their favorite tunesover a car’s stereo without a CD or even FM Radio.  The receiver can play songs from USB flashdrives, SD or microSD cars, and iPods or iPhones.  Additionally, it can sync contacts from a connected phone and allow the driver to voice dial contacts while on the road, doing double duty as a hands free system.

And finally, for the text messaging addict or Facebook magnate, there are voice-activated systems that will read text messages to the driver, and allow the driver to speak a text message into the phone and reply to their contacts.  It’s even compatible with Facebook, allowing for speech-to-text status updates on the fly.

High-Tech Security

Sure, cars come with security systems, locks, and keys.  But in a high-tech world full of new products and innovations, it’s the fingerprint that’s being introduced to keep cars safe and secure.  The Fingerprint Car Security System can recognize multiple fingerprints, allowing or disallowing each person the ability to open the doors or turn on the engine.  Permissions can be changed per fingerprint at any time, giving people different permission levels based on a driver’s level of trust — and liability insurance.

Maintenance Improvements

Cars have long had on-board computers that measured things like engine temperature and whether or not it’s time for an oil change.  Now, a high-tech device called CarMD can connect to those on-board computers, download data from the car’s computers, and print out easy-to-read reports on a laptop or desktop computer about the state of the car’s maintenance and the potential need for any repairs or checkups.

In a world where mechanics are thought of as less-than-trustworthy until proven otherwise, CarMD is an important asset for the driver who doesn’t want to be overcharged for parts they don’t need, or convinced their car needs a special kind of maintenance that, in reality, it does not.

Technology is rapidly changing the way everyone lives their lives — practically every daily task is now pocket-sized.  Cars have been late to go fully mobile, but these accessories are a bold step in the right direction toward all-encompassing mobile integration.

Nicole Rodgers has been blogging for three years; she is also contributing to auto insurance blogs and in her free time she enjoys helping teens prepare for their DMV test.

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