Pardon Our Dust

Throughout this week and perhaps for at least the next few days, you may encounter some odd stuff on Ate Up With Motor, such as different privacy notice banners. This is because I’m still trying to update things for greater compliance with the European GDPR rules taking effect on Friday. Unfortunately, there is no one plugin or tool that provides all the functionality I need, and many are in a rudimentary state as their developers scramble to get them working properly as half the world’s WordPress users have a simultaneous meltdown. Some of the work therefore involves a high level of technical complexity that is at the ragged limits of my understanding (if the phrase “function hooks” leaves you scratching your head, you’re not alone!). Some things I don’t know how to do, and entities to whom I’ve reached out with technical support questions are all swamped. I’m hoping that by next week, I’ll have it in some kind of workable order, but there’s an awful lot. My apologies for the inconvenience!

ETA: I also want to apologize for the “our privacy policy has changed” prompt screen that keeps coming up. One of the GDPR’s requirements is that if the policy changes in any substantive way (“substantive” meaning basically anything other than fixing a spelling or punctuation error), you MUST prompt users to review and consent to the policy again. This is well-meaning, but obviously can get very frustrating for visitors.

A Shocking Omission

The other night, I was browsing through Brian Heiler’s Plaid Stallions website, as one does, and had a minor epiphany. When I wrote about the FWD GMC Motor Home a few years ago, I mentioned that it had been part of the Mattel Hot Wheels line for a while, but I neglected to mention that it had also been the basis for the ne plus ultra of seventies girls’ toys: Mattel’s Barbie Star Traveler Motor Home. Blogger Laura Moncur has previously written about her Star Traveler toy and how it even tempted her to invest in the real thing.

Brian Heiler also noted a particularly obscure connection: Mattel used what were clearly the same molds as the Star Traveler for the Big Jim Super Car, part of another, now largely forgotten seventies toy line.

Privacy update

I’ve updated the site Privacy Policy regarding Google Analytics, which Google is now updating based on a new EU privacy law. The gist as I understand it is this: As of May 25, 2018, Google is introducing new data retention settings that determine how long Google Analytics will retain the data it gathers for the site. I’ve set it to automatically delete data after 26 months.

I’ve also clarified that although Google Analytics has a User-ID tool that can attempt to identify a unique user across devices, I have deliberately never enabled that tool. I’ve now disabled the setting to include the Users metric in the analytics reports. (I’ve never looked at that tab in the reports, so I’m not entirely sure if it was even putting anything there with User-ID turned off.)

To be candid, I am not comfortable with online tracking and analytics services except of the most rudimentary sort. I need to know aggregate data — e.g., how many people visited the site last month — and it’s often helpful for me to see where referral traffic is coming from, but I don’t consider it appropriate or ethical for websites to develop behavioral profiles of their users. I’m a writer, not an intelligence officer or a cop!

If you have any questions about the policy or Ate Up With Motor’s use of analytics, please let me know via comment or the Contact Form. Also, if you have specific concerns or recommendations regarding Google Analytics settings (which I must confess are often at the ragged edge of my technical understanding), I am certainly open to suggestions.

Secrets of the Simpson Gearset

If you’re familiar with transmissions like the Chrysler TorqueFlite and GM Turbo Hydra-Matic (among others), you may have heard of the “Simpson gearset.” In this installment of Ate Up With Motor, we look at the origins and function of the Simpson gearset and briefly introduce you to its inventor, the late Howard W. Simpson.
Continue Reading Secrets of the Simpson Gearset

Giving Slip the Slip: Lockup Torque Converters and Split Torque Automatic Transmissions

Fluid clutches — fluid couplings and torque converters — have many advantages for automotive transmissions, but with those benefits comes a cost: fuel-wasting hydraulic slippage even at cruising speed. Since the 1940s, automakers have come up with a variety of strategies for reducing or eliminating that slip, including series parallel “split torque” transmissions and different types of converter lockup clutches. In this installment of Ate Up With Motor, we take a look at how GM, Ford, Chrysler, Packard, and Studebaker have approached this slippery problem from 1949 through the late eighties.
Continue Reading Giving Slip the Slip: Lockup Torque Converters and Split Torque Automatic Transmissions

Update Your Bookmarks

As you might have noticed, I have implemented an SSL (secure socket layer) certificate on the site, so the address bar in your browser should now say https rather than http — hopefully without any little yellow triangles or other warning indicators.

I decided to go to HTTPS for four reasons: 1) Search engines are beginning to favor secure sites over ones that are unencrypted; 2) it’s better for security; 3) it’s better for your privacy; and 4) it’s better for my privacy.

The caveat is that setting up HTTPS is complicated even if you are a computer nerd, which I most assuredly am not. It appears things are now working properly and non-secure (http) links are automatically redirecting to secure ones (https), as they should be, but there may be other hiccups I haven’t yet noticed. If you experience any problems, such as your browser warning you that parts of the page are not secure (what’s called a “mixed content” error), please let me know (and be sure to specify what browser you’re using!).

In the meantime, if you have bookmarks to Ate Up With Motor or to specific pages or articles, I would recommend that you update them to the new https addresses at your convenience. Again, the old links should still redirect, but going directly to the secure versions will help the site run faster and encourage search engines to get on the same page.

CarStories Podcast

Recently, I went over to the Petersen Automotive Museum to record a podcast with the CarStories crew and take a tour of the Petersen vault. You can now hear the podcast at the CarStories website or via iTunes.

The website I mentioned in the podcast (which was an inspiration for Ate Up With Motor as regards format and approach) is Greg Goebel’s excellent Vectors. It doesn’t deal with automotive topics, but he’s covered a wide range of other technologies, including many aircraft, spacecraft, and a lot more. I highly recommend it, although be forewarned: If you’re on deadline, get your work done before you get sucked into the site!

Celestial Pony: Toyota’s First-Generation Celica

The first-generation Toyota Celica is one of those cars that used to be everywhere, only to fade into an undeserved obscurity. Often ignored or dismissed by English-language automotive histories, the original Celica was a popular and significant automobile with many interesting permutations, only a few of which ever made it to America and other export markets. In this installment of Ate Up With Motor, we take a look at the complicated saga of the original A20/A30 Celica, Japan’s first “pony car.”

1974 Toyota Celica hardtop (RA21) fender badge © 2011 dave_7 (with permission)
(Photo: “1974 Toyota Celica badge” © 2011 dave_7; used with permission)

Continue Reading Celestial Pony: Toyota’s First-Generation Celica

New Article Possibility

I’ve been working on two additional articles. One is another, shorter technical piece as a followup to the previous articles. The other leading possibility is the first-generation (1971–1977 A20/A35) Toyota Celica.

To that end, I will need to gather more photos of the Celica as well as its cousin, the A10/A15/A30 Toyota Carina, the rival Mitsubishi Colt GTO and first-generation Nissan Silvia (a.k.a. Datsun 200SX), and ideally one or two of the early Mazda Savanna (RX-3) coupe.

If you’d like to help with pictures, please let me know via the Contact Form. Thanks!

Hydra-Matic, Dynaflow, Powerglide, and New Content! (Well, sort of.)

As you probably all know, I’ve been working for months on an extensive revamp of the second part of my 2010 article on GM’s early automatics, covering Dynaflow, Powerglide, their successors (including Twin Turbine Dynaflow, Turboglide, and Dual-Path Turbine Drive), and the later generations of Hydra-Matic. That revamp is now done.

The article has been almost completely rewritten, adding a lot of new information (more than doubling its length in the process) and incorporating a lot of corrections. Unlike the previous version, I’ve made a concerted effort to explain the mechanics of each of the 14 transmissions discussed.

This is the newly revised piece, covering Dynaflow, the early Powerglide, Controlled Coupling Hydra-Matic, Roto Hydra-Matic, Turboglide, and others. If you somehow missed the revamped Part 1, this is the history of the first-generation Hydra-Matic.