What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

Scouting New York

Filed under: Links,Old Things — dave @ 11:00 am 2008/12/28

Here’s another cool site featured recently by Neatorama that I can’t get enough of… Scouting New York.

I work as a film location scout in New York City. My day is basically spent combing the streets for interesting and unique locations for feature films. In my travels, I often stumble across some pretty incredible sights, most of which are ignored every day by thousands of New Yorkers in too much of a rush to pay attention.

What a great job, and what a great idea to go along with that great job… Grab photos of some of the unique but easily missed features of the places you see. And New York City has plenty of character hiding everywhere, but hiding in plain sight. It just takes someone like Scout to see that character and point it out to those who are too busy to notice the beauty that’s around them.

I usually think that I’m pretty good at that — among my family and friends it’s usually me that notices the oddball little out-of-the-way places and the weird little details that others will miss — but I don’t always take the time to sit down and write about them. Around Sioux Falls, there are lots of historic sites that are marked by Historical Society plaques; I started a while back taking photographs of those markers and sites, and writing a little about them on a Blogspot site — Sioux Falls Historic Sites (yeah, original name, I know…) — but my updates have been sporadic and I’m somewhat ashamed to see now that it’s been over two years since I last added a post. I’ve still got photos of a couple dozen more markers sitting on my hard drive waiting for me to get around to writing about them, but still, there they sit.

But beyond even the historic sites, there are plenty of details in the old buildings around town that could be “scouted” & written about… Of course, Sioux Falls doesn’t have the wealth of old interesting things that New York has… But still, it’s a great idea that I might have to pick up. Maybe just add to my SF Historic Sites project? Yup, in my spare time.

Fourteen Below Zero

Filed under: Favorite Things,Fun!,Just Stuff,Old Things,sioux falls — Tags: , , — dave @ 9:03 pm 2008/12/15

We’re having a cold snap in Sioux Falls this week. Not just cold, but stinkin’ cold. The photo above was taken of the thermometer on the back of our house at about 6am this morning. 14 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (that’s -25.5° C for the rest of the world.) No idea how accurate that old thermometer is — it came with the house — but KELO’s weather page shows -15° F for today’s low, and the National Weather Service has an official low of -11° for today. Tonight should be at least as cold.

Thankfully the wind wasn’t blowing much outside this morning, so starting the Suzuki wasn’t too bad. Not long after snapping the photo I went out to start up the engine & let it warm up a little. It’s always funny how the cold sucks the bounce out of the seats & suspension; hopping in is like jumping on a log. No give at all.

The air on a cold, cold morning like this is crisp and clear, and sounds take on a different character. Aircraft flying overhead sound totally different, cars driving by sound totally different… It’s a very cool experience. And on many mornings like this in years past, I’ve seen light pillars — vertical shafts of light above streetlights, farmyard lights, or car headlights. I didn’t get out before it was light, so didn’t see any this morning, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were around.

The cold is brutal, and makes me not want to go anywhere, but the cold brings out special phenomena that make venturing outside well worth the trouble of bundling up.

Finally; Why The Chicken Really Crossed The Road

Filed under: Fun!,Links — dave @ 8:21 pm 2008/12/14

I laughed out loud at this one. That bird is in for one rude awakening!

Available as a t-shirt over at one of my favorite sites, Neatorama.

BMWotD — 1995 540i 6-speed!

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Cars! — dave @ 9:29 pm 2008/12/08

Here’s another hot BMW I’d like to own; a 1995 BMW 540i. And this one is not your run-o’-the-mill 540… This one’s got a 6-speed manual transmission!

The E34 — also known as the 5-series — was built from 1987 to 1996. I actually like body style of the 533 (of the E28 variety) I wrote about last week better than the E34, but I could live with this one. The E28 has truly classic lines — it screams BMW with a front end that mimics the 6-series coupes — but the E34 is a fine looking car in its own way, sporting classic lines that belie its age. The 6-speed makes it very desirable, and a bit rare. According to Wikipedia, “Only 1357 examples of the 95 540i 6spd were produced” and sold in North America. I don’t know if it’d be considered a collector item, but it is one rare bird. That combined with the 286 hp/295 ft·lb 4.4L V8 would make this a fun ride.

As appealing as buying an older BMW is to me, another attractive feature of this one is that it was built after 1994; prior to that date vehicle air conditioning systems used R12 refrigerant, which can be expensive to return to working order after things go wrong. I’ve converted two vehicles to R134, neither conversion yielded wonderful results, and I’d really rather not go that route again.

This particular 540i is located in Colorado Springs; a mere 12 hour drive for me. But for a 13 year old car with 112,000 miles and an engine/transmission combination like this… All for under $6,000? I dunno. If it weren’t for that little obstacle in the shape of a dollar sign, as in I don’t have it, I’d be there. Unfortunately, it’s probably already sold. Or it ought to be.

A Real-Life MI Speedball On eBay

Filed under: Cars!,Old Things — dave @ 12:53 am 2008/12/07

A while back I wrote a spot about the MI Speedball, a home-built car based on a set of plans published in a 1959 Mechanix Illustrated magazine. Recently, Jalopnik posted an article about a vintage MI Speedball that showed up on an eBay auction. The auction ended on Nov. 30, apparently unsold because the highest bid of $22,456.00 didn’t hit the seller’s magic reserve figure.

The car was originally built back in 1959 by a California boat builder, using suspension parts & wheels from an early-’50’s Citroen 2CV. And it’s powered by an oddball 1952 Ariel Square-Four motorcycle engine. Kind of like a pair of two-cylinder motors stuck together in a square arrangement (here’s a video of one running.) So very cool; makes me wonder how it would look and perform if it was built with suspension bits & wheels from, say a late-’90’s BMW 3-series, and a 4-cylinder from a Civic with a 5-speed in the back. Considering the motor in the 1959 version that scooted it around pretty well with it’s 60 HP, the Honda powerplant would be pretty insane. I’m sure you’d need something more than 2×4’s to hold it all together though.

The best part of the eBay auction page is the photos; I was impressed by the original concept and article, but it is so cool to see hi-res color photos of the machine. If only I had a little more disposable income, a little more spare time, a spare garage stall, and a wife tolerant of such foolery, I’d be showing off photos of my own Speedball. Yeah; if only.

So in lieu of that, here are the photos and copy, lovingly ripped off from that auction. Just don’t drool on your keyboard too much. Oh, and the seller is the Saint Louis Car Museum; they have this car and many others in their inventory available for sale.

Year: 1952
Make: Ariel Custom
Model: Wood Car
VIN: TM1268
Mileage: —–
Engine: Ariel Square Four
Cylinders: 4 Cylinder
Transmission: 4 Speed
Title: Clear / MO
Color: Wood
Interior Color: Red
A truly One of a Kind work of automotive art! Built by a west coast boat builder in 1959, this awesome wood car will complete any collection. The story behind the car is that the builder wanted a unique hotrod, one that reflected his superior woodworking skills along with his knowledge and love for boats. He started by building a wood body modeled after a Modern Mechanics Magazine article, then he sourced out an ultra rare 1952 Ariel Square Four motorcycle engine and transmission for the power. The suspension was taken from a Citroen of the era, and rest was all hand fabricated. Many parts are period correct new car pieces, the taillights are Cadillac, the headlights are generic part store replacements, and the fuel cell is a California Speed shop special.
Driving this car is an experience only a lucky few will ever have. Starting the engine is easy, just turn the key. The pedals are like that of a normal car, the shifter is a sequential 4 speed, braking is done by four wheel hydraulic drum brakes. The real fun is cruising around town and seeing the looks on people’s faces, accelerating thru the gears is exhilarating, but the car stays stable while doing so. The exhaust note is fantastic due to the hand built side exit pipes. Proper running lights for legal street driving where installed when the car was built, however comforts like climate control are absent.
After building and driving the vehicle for a short time the builder put the car in storage, and later sold the car to a Nevada Collector. The car remained in the care of that collector until it was purchased by a friend of the museum during a Rare Motorcycle hunting trip to Vegas, shortly after the car was transported to St. Louis it was sold to the Museum. It is important to note the original condition of the vehicle, the high build quality and excellent care the car has received over the years has preserved it very well, a piece of Americana from a similar time of innovation and individual creativity. The car does have a clear Missouri title as a 1952 Ariel and carries the VIN from the motorcycles engine. Please do not hesitate to contact us about this rare opportunity to purchase this spectacular motorcar. If nothing else it is truly fun to show your friends the new piece of art you just acquired. 


In an effort to protect the eBay user information and to help ensure the authenticity of correspondence between St. Louis Car Museum and its bidders, eBay’s new listing format does NOT display any bidder information. Nevertheless, we STRONGLY encourage bidders to contact us directly to answer questions or to verify correspondence. All of our vehicles are advertised locally and nationally using a variety of formats and often sell before the end of eBay listings. To secure a vehicle, please contact us.

5,000 Visitors!

Filed under: About This Site — dave @ 9:37 pm 2008/12/04

Where was I when this new milestone was passed? I dunno, but it blew by on Nov. 30 and I totally missed it. Come to think of it, 4,000 went by just as stealthily, but I guess you shouldn’t have too many milestones.

According to Sitemeter, somebody from Kirkland, Washington, was my 5,000th visitor; he/she did a Google search for “Pat Rooney Hawaii” and ended up here, probably because of the post I wrote a while back about my cousin Pat’s WubbaWubbaWubba.com site. Of course, it’s not exactly 5,000 visitors — lately my cookie setting to ignore visits from the default browser on my laptop has been ignored — but close enough.

I’ve got scripts for both Sitemeter and Google Analytics running on my site; most days their numbers jive, but others… Wow are they off.

BMWotD — “Nicely Modified” 1983 533i

Filed under: BMW Of The Day — dave @ 11:52 am 2008/12/03

Here’s one that I’ve seen on the Chicago CraigsList several times. I would dearly love to have this car; it sounds awesome.

Up for sale is my nicely modified 1983 533i. It has a 5 speed manul transmission in perfect working order. It also sports an M30 engine from a Euro M635csi. This is the high compression 218 BHP “dirty” engine.

The car has 363,xxx miles, but the original engine was replaced at 300,000 miles with the Euro engine. At that time, the Euro engine has 119,000 miles on it so it has a total of 182,000 miles now. The engine runs perfectly, idles smoothly, accelerates flawlessly and is very fast! The transmission shifts smoothly through all gears and the clutch acts and feels just as it should.


Yeah, 363k on a car sounds like a lot… but on a 25 year old vehicle, that only comes out to under 15k a year, which isn’t too bad for a daily driver in a major metropolitan area. And it sounds like this is truly a daily driver, and has been well maintained. And the guy knows his BMW gear… the original engine was replaced with one from a European 635csi. Then there is the list of modifications…

  • Auto Authority chip
  • 3.73 Limited Slip Differential
  • M5 exhaust
  • E30 leather seats in very good condition
  • M5 front spoiler in ok condition
  • M5 rear spoiler in perfect condition
  • Glass sunroof
  • Euro lights with wipers
  • 17 x 8 throwing star wheels with Falken tires that have less than 8,000 miles on them
  • Shawn D. custom gauge package
  • Map light rear view mirror
  • Ireland Engineering front strut bar
  • Racing Dynamics sway bars
  • Bilstein’s all the way around
  • Real shadowline trim tail lights
  • Shadowline trim windows
  • Denon stereo with a Denon cd changer
  • Condition-wise, the car seems pretty solid. The seller says that while it’s not perfect, he wouldn’t hesitate to hop in & drive it cross-country. He’s provided a link to a Photobucket album with a ton of extra photos (link); from that it looks like he’s being honest about the car’s condition. It doesn’t look like your run-o’-the-mill vehicle from 1983. And a car that’s 363,000 miles looking like this one does has definitely been well cared for, and will very likely go many more miles.

    The seller lists a few of the issues with the car… Cruise control does not work, a leak in the A/C somewhere, the driver’s side back window “just stopped working”, and there is the inevitable “some minor spots of rust”. I really hate rust, but from his description and the photos it sounds manageable.

    The seller is including with the car, “3 additional rust-free doors, the two original front seats in decent condition, the original TRX wheels with tires (tires aren’t good), a large box of miscellenous parts for the car, and a Bentley repair manual.” All in all, this sounds like a great car for $3,800 or best offer. Given the number of times the ad’s been seen on CL, I’d be willing to bet that he’d go a lot lower than that. The ad says it’ll be available for viewing until the snow flies; then it gets put away. I’d be willing to bet it’ll be back on CL in the spring. Let’s see if I can scrape together $3,500 or so by then.

    BMWotD — 1997 740IL

    Filed under: BMW Of The Day — dave @ 10:51 am 2008/12/02

    I decided the site needed a new category, so this is the first in it; BMW of the Day. I wrote a while ago how I’d decided that my next vehicle purchase was going to be of the Bavarian variety, and since then I’ve been checking the CraigsList posts in Minneapolis, Chicago, Kansas City, and elsewhere for BMW’s in the sub-$5,000 price range. It’s amazing what you can find with those criteria.

    My first example is this fine 1997 740iL in Glenview, IL, with just 104,000 miles on the clock — barely broken in.

    Up for sale is a very clean White/Beige 1997 BMW 740IL with 104K miles. Automobile is in great condition. It was recently detailed.

    Equipped with comfort heated front seats, heated steering wheel, premium sound with 6 disc cd changer, like new michelin tires, overall in great condition.

    Please email me for a copy of Autocheck report.

    MUST SEE, please email if you would like to come and see it or see more photos.


    I really like the looks of the 1995-2001 7-series — or E38 — sedans, and the iL more so than the standard -i sedans. The -iL designates the car to be of the “long-wheelbase” or “limousine” variety; the rear doors are about 6 inches longer, giving the rear seat passengers plenty of legroom. The E38’s sold in the US were all equipped with either the 4.4L V8 (the 740) or the 5.4L V12 (the 750); the V12 is much rarer than the V8, and from what I understand much more prone to engine control problems — it uses two engine control modules; one for each bank of six cylinders — and is much more difficult to diagnose. I don’t think I need that kind of headache, so I’ll go with the garden variety V8, thanks.

    The Wikipedia article that discusses the E38 BMW’s says that they were sold with either the 5-speed automatic or the 5-speed manual transmission. I would much prefer the manual, but have yet to bump into one so equipped. I have seen a number of 5-series cars equipped with the 5.4L V8 and a 5- or 6-speed manual, so converting an automatic to manual wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility. In fact, if I do buy one with an automatic and if the transmission dies, that’s what I’d likely do.

    It’s pretty common to see a 740i or 740iL selling in the $5,000—$6,000 range, and they seem to be well maintained and in good running condition. That makes sense for a lot of reasons; these cars generally sold for $50,000 and up, which tells me that if their owners had the means a purchase like that, they also had the means to have the car serviced regularly. BMW suggests a visit to the service center every 3,000 miles or so. If I buy one, I don’t know if I’ll be that anal about maintenance, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to pay them a visit now & then. The BMW dealership in Sioux Falls is Vern Eide. They’re not known for inexpensive service rates, but what dealer shop is?

    Now, it’s a matter of waiting until the CFO gives the nod to either selling the Suzuki or handing it off to Ian. Until then, I’ll need to keep a towel over my laptop whilst browsing the CraigsList ads.