Wheel well aerodynamics

photo courtesy of magoffin

Today, Magoffin asked another of his thought provoking questions: “I always wonder about the purpose of this small plastic wing on the rear fender. Any idea what it’s there for?”

I was going to simply reply – it has to do with aerodynamics, but I was curious to learn more, as I’ve seen mentioned in other forum questions for example, as to why there aren’t wheel well exhaust vents incorporated in the Abarth’s rear fascia, and decided to write a short blog article instead.

There has been a lot of scientific research involved with wheel well aerodynamics (https://publications.lib.chalmers.se/records/fulltext/250512/250512.pdf is a good example), since straight line wind tunnel testing (called onset flow) reveals that it can account for 25 – 30% of the overall drag. 

courtesy of AeroApp

Normally, there is a lot of turbulent air flow within the wheel well, so ideally you want to vent it as much as possible, which is why you’ll see race cars with over fender vents and / or wheel well exhaust vents, to help relieve pressure and create down-force.

without wheel arch spoiler
and with. Note the higher pressure behind the wheel, that a spoiler would negate. courtesy of ÖMER FARUK CAVUSOGLU.

Apparently, for highway speeds greater than around 45 mph, the wheel arch spoilers (like a mini mud flap on the forward bottom edge of the wheel arch), which are much easier to accommodate into car design, do a sufficient  job of keeping most of the air from entering the wheel well, hence lowering the resulting drag.  Because of the contour of the side of the vehicle, especially in the rear, that additional “wing” spoiler also aids in preventing that last bit of air pressure (as seen in the above illustration) from developing behind the wheels.

courtesy of AeroApp

♦♦♦♦

I find the science of aerodynamics to be quite fascinating. Apparently German racing driver Volker Wawer, was able to shave 20 seconds off his Nürbürgring lap time, by widening the front fenders to better direct air into the engine air intakes on the side of his Porsche GT4, actually gaining an increase in power from his engine (allowing for wider tires for better grip helped too).

courtesy of Racecar Engineering

3D-printed parts available for the 124 Spider

delta1

Delta Lab Roma, a company in Rome, Italy, has responded to requests coming from members of “124 SPIDER ITALIA” for some unique parts for the 124 Spider that, until now, have not been available anywhere.  Some of my blog readers might be interested in procuring some of these items, including:

  • Cap for the forward cup holder slot
  • Caps for the door bushings
  • Wedges for the convertible top stowage stops

Cap for the forward cup holder slot

In most of Europe, cup holders are not included accessories, and many had no idea what purpose the gaping hole along the side of the gear selector console was supposed to serve.  Indeed, many of us that did receive cup holders, have just tucked them away in a storage cubby behind the seats, since they are awkward to use, at least with the slots on the backside of the console armrest (which do have hinged covers built-in).

Delta Lab has produced a “bellissima” black rubber cap that snaps into place, and looks like it should have come with the car.  I did find that until you learn how to manipulate it into place, it would fall into the cavity.  I quickly realized though, that by pushing the cap’s “top” edge against the wall first, the cap will swing down and snap into place every time.

Price = € 10.00 + Shipping* ~ with 124 Spider or Abarth insignia (RUBBER)

delta3


Caps for the door bushings

Although the door latch keeps the door securely closed, what actually holds the door in alignment and helps the door actually become part of the mid-section structure in regards to rigidity (especially in convertibles), are the door bushings that mate with the bushing receiver mounted to the door, also serving as the door stop, and addressing one of the primary potential NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) issues, by minimizing any door latch rattle.  Much of the bushing is open and exposed to accommodate the A-pillar mounting screws, and the black rubber caps that Delta Lab has produced, snap into these screw openings, with the goal of increasing the factory bushing rigidity even further (rather than actually replacing the bushings with “oversized” aftermarket parts).

Price = € 20.00 + Shipping* ~ Door caps kit with 124 spider insignia (RUBBER)

I’ll drive my car over the tracks tomorrow, and try to determine whether my car is any quieter. Driving over my local railroad tracks crossing, all I hear is tire noise, but I can’t say that I recall my doors (or anything else, in this Japanese-assembled automobile, for that matter 😉 ) rattling, prior to today either.

IMG_0373


Wedges for the convertible top stowage stops

This is probably the most unique part produced, but since it addresses an issue that most of us aren’t experiencing – where the leading edge of the convertible top comes so close to the roll-bar hoops as it is latched into the stowage position, that it rubs on the canvas, eventually wearing a hole at the point of contact. 

There are stops that engage into a recess as the stowage latch engages, and again Delta Labs has developed wedges specifically designed to be adhered into said recesses with two-way tape, that will hopefully work to keep the stops far enough back, so as to eliminate any rubbing.  Technically, the dealer should have addressed this under warranty by replacing the top assembly, but in some Fiat forums, it seems that a few individuals that took their vehicle in for this issue, wish they hadn’t, as the top repair/replacement ended up in even worse shape.  If you are concerned that the gap is a little to close in your car, these wedges would be an alternative that I would encourage, before taking the car to the dealer.

delta5

delta2

delta4

Notes:

  1. Since the parts are produced in Italy, in might not be obvious that the right side recess should be mated with the part labeled DX-B (apply a piece of two-way tape over the “DX-B”), and similarly the part labeled SX-B, is for the left side.
  2. These wedges are not visible, so they haven’t been labeled with “124 Spider” insignia, making them suitable for consideration by Mazda MX-5 owners wanting to address  the convertible top rubbing issue, as well.
Price =  €15 for two wedges + Shipping* (RUBBER)
Payment is through Paypal @ deltalab.roma@gmail.com When the shipment departs, Deltalab sends a foto by mail or whatsapp so one can see the tracking number. 
Specifically, the spacers are made using a rigid high shore rubber
-----------------ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS-------------------------
The procedure is quite simple!
- Place the spacers in the appropriate seat, the spacer including its bevel in its corner follows the shape of the hole.
- On the back (to cover the positioning indications of the spacer) a simple double-sided adhesive tape will be applied, not included in the package, it can be fixed with glue or silicone instead.
- In most cases the low thickness double-sided tape (of the same thickness as a packing tape) is more than oppurt and adequate
- If the hood (top) notably touches the roll bar, before the temporary assembly of the spacers, it may be necessary to use a thicker double-sided tape.
------ We recommend that you first check the operation of the spacers without adhesive and then apply the double-sided tape or the adhesive that is considered most appropriate.
------- Attention! if the double-sided adhesive chosen is too thick, the soft top will be pushed in excess towards the rear and the soft top locking block (located in the central part of the car) will not work and will remain open. It is advisable to carry out a series of opening and closing tests before final fixing
*
-------------------- NATIONAL SHIPPING -----------------   €4 
The shipment takes place via Posta1, the Italian Post Office service, which will be delivered directly by the postman to his mailbox, the postman is not required to notify the recipient of the delivery of the package.
The shipment is provided with a tracking code to monitor its status until delivery to the recipient.
To check its status, we recommend using the site https://www.17track.net/
-------------INTERNATIONAL SHIPMENTS --------------   €5 (check to make sure though)
The shipment takes place via International Postamail, a service of the Italian Post Office. The shipment is provided with a tracking code to monitor its status.
It is possible to monitor the status of the shipment up to the Italian border.
Once package has crossed the Italian border it will no longer be possible to verify its status.

Caps for GT hardtop external mounting bolts

Fiat didn’t choose the ideal caps for cosmetically covering the 124 Spider GT hardtop’s two external mounting bolts, as the wind tends to separate them from the “inadequate” metal retaining clips.  Delta Lab is taking a stab at coming up with a more robust 3D-printed pair of caps (along with a pair of 3D-printed retaining clips for the caps to snap onto), for the small group of lucky individuals with carbon fiber hardtops.

Peter has to add double-sided tape, to keep from losing his caps, but because of the gap, even that isn’t always certain.


 

Here is a link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DeltaLabRoma/

European ⇔ North American ⇔ Japan Radio Tuner module (TAU) exchange hookup

amxuun00000644

TAU is in the same spot for LHD and RHD

Due to the superior performance of Google Search, I’m creating this thread (with specific search tags to focus searches further) to hopefully assist the few blog readers that have transported their vehicles across the pond (or will be), and find that the FM/DAB tuners no longer function properly, and hopefully help them “hookup” with someone that has done the same, but in the opposite direction, so that they can barter an exchange with each other.

FM Tuner channel spacing:

  • 50kHz channel spacing means no RDS.
  • 100kHz channel spacing allows for RDS.
  • 200kHz channel spacing (like in the US) also allows HD Radio.

I got the idea for this, after getting this email from Tomas P.

I buy fiat 124 spider from US and im living in Lithuania (Europe) so my problem is radio frequency. How i can change US radio frequency to EU? Do you have that firmware?

As far as I know, there is not a firmware fix for this, and I’m under the impression that you don’t have to change your firmware region to accommodate the new TAU.  I’m also not aware of a firmware repository for Fiat firmware anywhere – unlike Mazda firmware, so if it turns out you would like firmware installed for your new region, you’ll probably need to have a dealer (in that new region) do that for you.   You can download the new Navigation maps yourself though.

I could be wrong, but aside from Japan (I do know of one guy that shipped his 124 Abarth to Japan), I don’t know of cars getting imported/exported to/from other countries like Australia, South America, etc.   Anyways, if I’m wrong, I’m happy to add those tags too – all are welcome to post here 😉


I welcome and encourage readers that have the 7″ screen radio, to use this thread to exchange TAU modules (reminder: this is a module behind the right-side kick panel – not the CMU or screen) with each other, using comments below.  You should state:

  1. the part # shown on the label of your TAU unit* (since you probably won’t remove your TAU until a replacement is forthcoming, you can leave this blank for now – we can edit it in later when you have a label to read).
  2. model year (this probably doesn’t matter so much, although some 2017 TAU modules for North America didn’t have an XM antenna port).
  3. model (Classica, Lusso, Abarth – although, again, this probably doesn’t matter too much) (also MX-5 GT, Club, RF).
  4. is your radio Bose (line-out to the Bose AMP) or non-Bose (integrated 4-way AMP)?
  5. does your trunk lid have a sharkfin antenna?  (this indicates SiriusXM capability)
  6. the original country that TAU did work in.
  7. and the new country that you need the tuner to work in.
  8. your email address (use the format name at domain dot com, rather than name@domain.com ➤ so that robots are less likely to scrape it).

* The first 4 digits of the TAU part # can be obtained from the Audio system diagnostic screen:

  1. Switch the ignition to ACC or ON (engine off or on).
  2. Press the Music button, Favorite button, and the volume mute knob simultaneously for 2 seconds or more.
  3. Use the Test screen presented to use option:
85Part Number Readout TAUDisplays the tuner and amplifier unit part number (first 4 digits)

Adding Wireless CarPlay

John Petroviak submitted an interesting question today, and after enlarging the only photo I could find of Mazda’s implementation of wireless CarPlay for MY 2021 Miatas, and if I’m seeing it properly, it looks like they’ve changed the airbag message panel/seat-warmer switches to include a shelf for the wireless charging pad. That is based on the assumption that wireless phone charging is included in that option, which is possibly incorrect.

Consider this a discussion article, and at least for now, not an authoritative how-to… 🙂

I am guessing that rather than producing a different USB hub, since it only needs power without wired connectivity to the CMU, the wireless charger is a unique assembly with a slimmer message panel / seat-warmer switches and a phone shelf, independent of the cubby below it. I’m thinking that the power feed would be via the seat-warmer connectors though, so a car without that option might need a power wire run from the lower fuse panel, possibly resulting in 2 powered switches for seat warmers that might be otherwise useless, but if you do have seat warmers (and the CarPlay USB hub), it may very well be an easy mod!

[UPDATE 1/9/2021]
Ash8, has reported today, that Wireless CarPlay will require firmware 74.00.200+, and although the CMU seems to be the same unit, by MY 2022, he expects that an upgraded CMU (expected to cost around the $2K mark), that includes a different display screen (no touchscreen ability), will be the norm. He surmises that perhaps by MY 2022, these upgraded CMUs will be standard in both the Club and Grand Touring Miatas.

[UPDATE 5/31/2021]
Tristan-CX-5 stated today, that “Wireless CP requires special hardware inside the CMU. It is not just a software solution, even if both new CMUs part numbers (with and without CP) have the same firmware. So it is about the same as with wired CP/AA (same firmware, but requires hardware to be activated). You can not activate Wireless CP in a CMU which does not have the wireless CP hardware in it.” Therefore, don’t install firmware 74.00.230 thinking you’ll enable Wireless CarPlay.


Miscellaneous accessories, compatible with your 124 Spider

John M. submitted a source for properly adding a mounted fire extinguisher in his vehicle, and it reminded me that others may have inspiring solutions and accessory suggestions that might prove helpful to a few other 124 Spider owners. 


For instance, I recently procured a BougeRV 30-quart portable 12-volt compressor fridge/freezer, (along with a Jackery Explorer 300 portable power station) for outings/SHTF/road-trips/food shopping, and although I had my Jeep in mind as the usual vehicle to bring these items along in, I selected a size that would also fit in my 124 Spider.  My Jeep Grand Cherokee has a dual AGM battery setup that includes a 20-amp fused 12-volt outlet in the trunk, that powers the fridge great, but if I plan to keep it powered for an extended time while the engine isn’t running to keep those batteries charged, I’ll hook it up to the Jackery unit instead.

Rather than installing a dedicated 12-volt power lead into the 124 Spider’s trunk, again the Jackery, which is capable of powering the fridge for an entire weekend (unlimited if a solar panel or other input power source was also plugged in), will provide power to my fridge for a Fiat Club picnic, a tailgate party or a shopping excursion for seafood. The fridge fits very nicely in the trunk (thanks to the rectangular well in the bottom that seems custom-made for accommodating a cooler), albeit not much else will fit in concurrently. The height of this unit is a good reference point as being close to the max if you are shopping for other brands; smaller capacity units will usually be shorter.

The YouTube vlogger that I got all my promo codes from, and who’s reviews I depended on for my purchase decisions, is Hobotech.

If the ND MX-5 trunk opening is in fact 11″? (vs. 14″ in the 124 Spider), the fridge may not fit in that car.


BougeRV 30-Quart Fridge/Freezer Specifications

GENERAL

Weight:                                   
22.82 lbs

Dimensions (LxWxH):         22.7 x 12.6 x 15.5 in

Cooling Range:                      -7.6°F to 50°F

Voltage:                                    12V / 24V (DC); 120 – 240V (AC)

Capacity:                                 28 Liters / 30 Quarts

Refrigerating System:          Compressor; (not ammonia absorption)

Warranty:                                24 Months (36 months, if you register your purchase)

The Wancool compressor in the BougeRV unit is from China, which helps explain why the price of the BougeRV fridge/freezer is so much lower ($269; $215 using a promo code) than the equivalent ICECO JP30 fridge/freezer ($499) with the acclaimed SECOP (Danfoss) compressor made in Denmark.


The Jackery is ideally suited to power CPAP units, small AC appliances that use no more than 300 watts, 12-volt accessories (like my very energy-efficient fridge with it’s variable-speed compressor), and charging phones and drones. It actually fits along side the fridge in my 124 Spider trunk, making this a perfect duo, and it has so many other uses as well.

Now all I need is a solar panel, and I’ll be a “prepper” 😉

Jackery E-300 Specifications

BATTERY INFO

Capacity:                                 293Wh (14.4V, 20.4Ah)

Cell Chemistry:                     Li-ion NMC > Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide

Lifecycles:                              ≥500 cycles to 80%

PORTS

AC Output:                              110VAC, 60Hz, 300W (500W Surge)

USB-A Output:                        5V, 2.4A

Quick Charge 3.0 Output:   5 to 6.5V, 3A / 6.5 to 9V, 2A / 9 to 12V, 1.5A

USB-C PD Output:                  5V, 9V, 15V, 20V, 3A

Car Output:                             12V, 10A

DC Input:                                12V to 30V (90W Max)

RECHARGE TIMES

AC Adapter:                          4.7 Hours

12V Car Adaptor:                  5 Hours

100W Solar Panel:                 5.5 Hours

Electric Generator:              4.7 Hours

GENERAL

Weight:                                   7.1 lbs

Dimensions (LxWxH):         9.1 x 5.2 x 7.8 in

Operating Usage Temp:       14 to 104°F

Warranty:                               24 Months (36 months, if you register your purchase)


Added 1/1/2021

The trickle charger that I ended up ordering, while the car is wintering in my garage, is the NOCO 5-amp Genius5 fully automatic charger, since it is in a sealed plastic unit (much safer when sitting under the hood near the battery) with LEDs that inform you of what it is doing, and is designed for 6-volt and 12-volt lead-acid automotive, marine, and deep-cycle batteries, including flooded, gel, AGM, and maintenance-free, plus lithium-ion batteries.  It is an all-in-one solution – battery charger, battery maintainer, trickle charger, plus battery desulfator.  There is an optional OBDII adapter cord available too, that can be used as a “keep-alive” battery maintainer while replacing your battery, and also allows you to charge your battery without opening the hood.

allows you to connect NOCO charger to the OBD2 port under your dash

Added 3/16/2021

mx-5-speaker-grill-set-behind-seats-3

I saw this on the Miata forum today, and thought I’d throw it out there, just in case someone might find them useful – speaker grilles from I.L.Motorsport to replace the trim covers hiding the storage cubbies behind the seats (some 124 Spider owners don’t even know that these cubbies exist). I actually use the cubbies for their intended purpose – the cup holders (that I’ve never used), are stored rattle-free in one of the cubbies (just in case), and I’m happy with my non-Bose system, so the grilles are of no use to me.


Added 3/22/2021

163523422_10224300871219649_2929816941088050038_o

photos (and instructions) courtesy of Gregory K. Lipscomb

curt hitch with exhaust

This is how the trailer hitch and OEM muffler share space. Clearances are tight, but well-designed and thought out. Keep the packing material in place during installation. That may help prevent any damage to the powdercoated paint while handling.

61ymw8mf4rl._ac_sl1500_

I saw this in the 124Spider.org (2017+ FIAT 124 Spider) Facebook group today, where Gregory posted great instructions on how to install the CURT (11435) receiver hitch (a MX-5 accessory intended to accommodate bicycle racks and small trailers for autocross wheels/tires).


Added 4/10/2021

infoscreen hood

photo+ recommendation courtesy of j.c. parks

Glare hood for the Infotainment screen


Convertible Top Treatment, added 7/4/2021

303 Fabric Guard

Replacement Vehicle Battery

Many of us will soon be looking for a replacement vehicle battery, and John M. has been doing a lot of research to find the ideal replacement.   The Mopar battery (BB0H5500AB) identified in both my Specs section and my battery articles written a few years ago, has apparently been discontinued, and superseded by one or two others, and like most Fiat parts, seems to be overpriced. As Stefan reminds us in the first comment, Fiat has simply selected an existing Jeep battery that is a little smaller, so that it fits in the battery tray.

So what ended up being John’s best solution?  The exact Q85* replacement battery obtained from a Mazda dealership.  He writes:

I found an actual original factory battery source for our Spiders. Once again, it’s as simple as Mazda dealers.  The Q85 battery in our Fiats is the same factory battery as used in recent year Mazda 3’s equipped with something called “i-ELOOP”  (start-stop).

And apparently there is no substitute that will work for those cars, so Mazda dealers stock them – but in very small numbers. My closest Mazda store stocks just one and doesn’t order another until it sells (which they do regularly).  Local price here is $425.  Also online for about $320 not including what must be very expensive shipping.

The Mazda part number for the battery is PE1T-18-520-9U.  It is a Group 35 size battery.  The batteries that Mopar lists are in larger size groups and I don’t see how they could fit into the Spider battery tray.

Panasonic developed a Q85 battery exclusively for Mazda’s i-ELOOP vehicles, to be used with a non-standard alternator and a capacitor, as explained in this article that John found.

The i-ELOOP system uses a unique variable voltage alternator that can produce up to 25 volts during deceleration. The electricity that is generated during deceleration is not sent directly to the vehicle’s battery, because the battery cannot store more than 12 volts. Instead, the capacitor stores the electricity, up to the 25 volts produced by the alternator.

The Q85 battery that Mazda has installed in our cars is more generic, is only designated as Stop-Start, and is a flooded cell lead-acid battery apparently produced by a few companies, one example of which is shown in the top photo. If the price is right (and you can find one), that battery, made by Bosch @ 620 CCA would fit perfectly!

Replacement Battery: As an alternative to the spec battery, FIAT has recommended that U.S. dealers install their stocked H5 battery (currently MOPAR # BB0H5500AB), which fits OK, although slightly smaller in height and capacity (500 CCA). 

[UPDATE]
See my battery article for other BETTER alternatives, which include good-value and readily available Group 35 (and Group 51R) batteries, unlike the Q85, at least here in the U.S.


*  Q85 Specs

q85

There may be some 124 Spiders produced for MY 2021 after all, but the end is near

maserati-alfieri-concept_100458631_m

photo of the Maserati Alfieri as presented back in 2014

According to Hotcars, Mazda will still be producing a few batches of  124 Spiders on their Miata assembly line as 2021 models, so the Spider isn’t done yet.  It remains to be seen which ports these cars will be shipped to though, and as Hotcars states:

… the 2021 124 Spider Abarth will need a serious marketing team to dethrone its opponents.

It has been confirmed that dealers can still take deposits for special-order 2021 124 Spiders from the factory for customers.

My Fiat dealer also sells Maserati and Alfa Romeos, so even if they are not allocated any sales bank 2021 Spiders (I think they still have a handful of 2019s to sell), the Maserati Alfieri (shown above), which I think looks so much like a conceptual hardtop version of our Spider, will soon be proudly displayed in the dealer’s showroom.

Equipped with a 4.7L V8 Ferrari engine, the Alfieri is expected to hit the streets by the beginning of 2021. First introduced in 2014, the concept car is finally becoming commercially available.

As an effort to revive the Maserati brand, the FCA decided to keep the luxurious aspect that naturally comes with a Maserati (unlike Ford with Jaguar). The Alfieri will be competing with low-grade Ferraris, Lamborghinis, as well as the BMW M6 and the AMG C63 S.

[UPDATE 12/15/2020]
As for new Spiders, one is in the works from Maserati  –  the MC20 Spider, a full-electric planned for MY 2022, according to this article.

2022-maserati-mc20-spider-looks-very-sexy-for-a-rendering_54


[UPDATE 11/21/2020]
After reading this article today, where they’re auctioning off the last 124 Spider produced for the Japanese market, I think it’s safe to assume that there won’t be anymore coming out of the Hiroshima facility, so any new arrivals at the ports (if any), will be the last ones. The article doesn’t state what model year was assigned to these last vehicles though (2020 or 2021?).

P.S.
I love some of the sketches that were assembled for this “Sayonara” charity event!

Towing your 124 Spider behind a motorhome

towing behind motorhome1

ND being towed on a Futura 13′ single-axle lowering trailer

A blog reader asked me to provide some answers to the title question, and not knowing if this subject has ever been covered before, I decided to start my search at various ND Miata forums, and write an article for discussion.   Since our platform is RWD, towing with the front wheels on a dolly, or with a tow bar and all four wheels on the ground (aka flat towed, or 4-down), is generally forbidden.

Manual Transmission

Since the 6-speed manual transmission in the ND has no synchronizer on the countershaft, unlike the previous generation 6-speed manual transmission (NC) which does have one, there is nothing on the rotating output shaft to slosh oil about, so there will not be sufficient lubrication of the internals, as the vehicle is being towed with the rear wheels on the ground, and premature failure would be inevitable.

I have however, seen some discussion that there is evidence that the NC 6-speed manual transmission (which is the one in our 124 Spiders), did indeed lubricate the internals while being flat-towed (or, alternatively, with the front wheels on a dolly), because of a synchronizer on the countershaft that is continuously rotating in the gear oil residing in the bottom of the transmission, throwing oil on the main shaft and tail bushing.  As an example, healeyman discusses his flat tow setup here.  He also has instructions for removing the steering wheel lock on a NC, as well as instructions for fitting a Roadmaster baseplate and brackets on a NC, and my guess is that the 124 Spider is very similar (at least regarding the steering wheel lock).  millsj mentions fitting a baseplate with an intercooler here.

rvmiata2

healeyman has “flat towed a 2012 NC Retractable over 30,000 miles”

cimg1613

That is good news, since although the housings differ slightly to accommodate the respective engines, Fiat made the wise decision to use the tougher NC-era manual transmission internals in our 124 Spiders, so there is a good possibility (requires further research) that we might be able to “flat tow” the car with a tow bar, even though officially, Fiat maintains that this is NOT an accepted practice.

Automatic Transmission

There is no chance of towing these vehicles with the rear wheels on the ground, if they have an automatic transmission, which leads to the next question:

How can these cars be towed?

One possibility is to pull the vehicle on a dolly, with the rear wheels on deck, and the steering wheel lock disabled.

towing behind motorhome2

Other options include an open car-hauler trailer…

trailered-spider

or an enclosed car-hauler trailer, which tend to be quite large, heavy and involve cumbersome ramps.

f512d8913609266524ff3e76e5241303


aha4aiconI was pleasantly surprised to discover that Futura makes a single-axle version of their lowering trailer, which seems to be custom-made for our light vehicles, since it has a 2,620 pound load capacity (see the first photo at the beginning of the article).  The trailer can be operated (lowered/raised) via remote control, which is probably necessitated by the fact that you can’t open the car door while the trailer is in the lowered ramp position.  A video on their website implies that, most RV parks will agree that, since no ramps are required, this particular trailer will usually fit in the allocated parking spot, and not be considered a third on-site vehicle, as long as you agree to park your car on it, when returning to your site.

Since it is less than 18′ long, you should be able to park the trailered car in your garage, and yet, retain the ability to drive on and off of it in-place!

single-axle-specs

single-axle-overview-new

Futura single-axle trailer shown lowered with optional tire rack and stone guard

Addition of a screen to the HVAC inlet

HVAC inlet grille

What is labelled as a side cowl grille, is in reality, a bezel desperately in need of a metal screen mesh to keep critters, leaves, twigs, etc. from finding their way into the cabin air blower fan, unless you are quite confident that your car is kept in a clean, critter-free garage, when not being driven.  I doubt that the one integral strip of plastic serves as a beneficial barrier against anything other than perhaps your fingers.

Goaterguy was probably quite surprised to find a mouse nest in his, and added a metal mesh screen to prevent that from ever happening again (they chew through plastic, so don’t go through all the work of adding a screen made of plastic).  I know from experience in a camping trailer, that the urine smell never goes away, but hopefully his mice that spent the winter left the nest (and vehicle) for that activity.

HVAC inlet no-grille

photo courtesy of Goaterguy

And since the air-flow needs to be unrestricted, I would suggest also avoiding the installation of any “filter” meshes, like window screen,  as it will clog with dirt just like the air filters for your engine and furnace, and become another maintenance task (will need to be checked and cleaned periodically – not ideal).

Continue reading

The convertible I had prior to my 124 Spider

dune_buggy_crop

In case anybody might be interested in another fun car that I had prior to my 124 Spider (from 2004 to 2014), I’ve duplicated a somewhat hidden page that I’ve had on my blog for some time (4 years; based on an article I wrote 16 years ago, back when I owned the domain hunterdunebuggy.com), but apparently because it is now a stand-alone wordpress.com web page, rather than a blog post, I’ve never been able to add the tags that Google needs for it’s search engines, so although the vehicle is pretty obscure, this article may outperform that page (get a few more hits).

Presenting my 1965 Hunter Dune Buggy, a limited-production clone of Steve McQueen’s customized version of a Meyers Manx vehicle he’d purchased from Bruce Meyers, for some of  his driving scenes in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair.

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written by Dan Adkins

Bruce Meyers started the dune buggy industry in 1964 when he designed a fiberglass dune buggy and started producing the Meyers Manx in his tiny shed on the Balboa Peninsula outside Newport Beach.  It was a monocoque body with a Beetle engine, transmission and suspension bolted to it and Meyers hoped to sell 20 or 30 (then priced at $985) just to cover the cost of the project.  Instead, he would receive more orders than he could fill.  Soon thereafter, in order to make the buggies easier to manufacture and more affordable, he redesigned the Manx bodies to bolt onto shortened VW floor pans (with front seats, suspension, beam, wheels, transmission and engine already attached beforehand, if so desired) and when magazines like Hot Rod and Car & Driver featured the fiberglass buggies on their covers, they took the country by storm.

In 1967, after Steve McQueen won his favorite lead role as Thomas Crown in the original production of the United Artists film The Thomas Crown Affair, for which he earned $750,000, and apparently aware of how well the Manx dune buggy performed on the beach, decided he wanted to use a souped-up Manx buggy in the beach racing scenes with co-star Faye Dunaway (who bravely remained seated at his side), rather than a Jeep as the script called for.  The film was released on June 18, 1968 and it helped further boost the dune buggy industry, as all of the driving scenes and stunts were done by McQueen himself in the buggy he had customized, known as the Queen Manx (which indeed started out as a Meyers Manx kit purchased from B.F. Meyers & Co.).

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