Everything in California is new. The simplest errands cannot be accomplished without a Yelp search. The most mundane chores take extra attention and an open web browser. When something goes wrong or needs to be fixed or requires an extra set of eyes, I need to consult others for local expertise. While living in Arlington Heights, most of these tasks could be checked off mindlessly, or at least with the help of family and friends nearby. However, in Long Beach it is a struggle to ensure things are repaired properly.
Perhaps the most popular character in this space has been The Handyman. (Un)Fortunately, he has not been seen in quite some time at The Sovereign. There are still issues that require attention and repair, but nothing exceedingly urgent or inconvenient. If and when something malfunctions, I have someone somewhat reliable and knowledgeable who can fix the problem.
Before making the cross-country trek to California, I brought my car in for an inspection to ensure everything was safe and suitable for 2000 miles on the road. The local grease monkey gave Max a one-over, and $500 later, my car was ready to hit the road. Of course you know by now that we limped into the Midas station in Grand Junction, CO with two missing lug nuts and a right front wheel that was about to fall off the axle. I’m not sure what I paid for at the auto shop back home, but know I’ve got another significant expense to cover this week when my brakes are inspected. Somehow that was missed on the pre-trip diagnosis. I wonder what that $500 went towards?
Speaking of cars, one routine item that has been easily replaced is regular car washes. While it may have been a bit unnecessary to splurge on VIP monthly membership at the local 5 n’ Go, I do enjoy taking the Max for weekly washes during lunch. I miss the effort of my guys at the Rand Road Raceway, but need to keep the black exterior sharp and sparkling for the California sunshine.
But having handyman-on-call or bringing the car into the shop is a defined requirement. What if I am the one that needs to be looked at? What if something doesn’t feel right in my mind or my stomach or my heart? Who then is the authority to make sure everything is functioning properly under my hood? I have yet to make those connections with anyone on the West Coast and am grateful to have a network back home that I can still rely on. It is important to me to keep those lines of communication open and operational. No matter how long we may last between conversations, or how far we have drifted apart, or how different things may be since we last spoke, it is comforting to know we can still be in touch. Most feelings this far havent been so much homesick as they have been lonely. I can joke about being a Party of One and finding an open bar stool and chatting up whomever is tending bar. But ultimately California offers plenty to explore and it would be so much more satisfying having someone else to discover all of its enchantment.
At this point, I haven’t been here long enough to know what I don’t know. I’ve found things like my car wash and grocery store and dry cleaner, but have yet to lock down my favorite pizza place or corner tavern or know my doctor or dentist. I’m fortunate to have a smart phone in hand and idle time on my side. I can take the time to research where I’ll make my next move or how I’ll spend the weekend. How were people self-confident and assured to make cross-country moves before the internet? What made them think it was a good idea to drop everything they knew and start all over in a new place?
On this day in history (3/16/1968) General Motors produces its 100 millionth automobile, the Oldsmobile Toronado.
The Oldsmobile Toronado is a personal luxury car produced by the Oldsmobile division of General Motors from 1966 to 1992. Designed to compete with the Ford Thunderbird and GM’s own Buick Riviera, the Toronado is historically significant as the first U.S. produced front-wheel drive automobile since the demise of the Cord in 1937.
It rode on the GM E platform introduced by the rear-wheel drive Riviera in 1963 and shared a year later with the front-wheel drive Cadillac Eldorado. Although each had quite different styling, the threesome shared the E platform for most of the Toronado’s 28-year history.
The name “Toronado” has no meaning, and was originally invented for a 1963 Chevrolet show car.
The original Toronado began as a design painting by Oldsmobile stylist David North in 1962. His design, dubbed the “Flame Red Car,” was for a compact sports/personal car never intended for production. A few weeks after the design was finished, however, Oldsmobile division was informed it would be permitted to build a personal car in the Riviera/Thunderbird class for the 1966 model year, and North’s design was selected. For production economy, the still-unnamed car was to share the so-called E-body shell with the redesigned 1966 Buick Riviera, which was substantially bigger than North had envisioned. Despite the efforts of Oldsmobile and General Motors styling chief Bill Mitchell to put the car on the smaller A-body intermediate, they were overruled for cost reasons.
Oldsmobile had been working on front-wheel drive since 1958, a project shepherded by engineer John Beltz (who originated the 4-4-2 and would later become head of the division). Although initially envisioned for the smaller F-85 line, its cost and experimental nature pushed the program towards a larger, more expensive car. Engineer F. J. Hooven of the Ford Motor Company, had patented a similar FWD layout, and Ford was seriously considering the design for the 1961 Ford Thunderbird. However, the time to develop and engineer such a design in such short notice made this a doubtful proposition.
The unusual Toronado powertrain, which combined an engine and transmission into an engine bay no larger than a conventional rear-wheel drive car, was dubbed the Unitized Power Package (UPP). . During its seven-year development, UPP components were driven over 1.5 million test miles to verify their strength and reliability. They proved so over-built the UPP was employed basically unchanged in the 1970s GMC motorhome.
As debuted, the innovative Toronado featured such GM developments as the:
- Heavy-duty Turbo-Hydramatic 400 three-speed automatic transmission (named THM425 in FWD form)
- Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor
- Spherical shaped exhaust-manifold flange gaskets, which provided freedom of movement in the exhaust system and prevented leaks
- “Draft-Free” ventilation system, which reduced wind noise considerably by eliminating conventional front-door vent windows
Firestone also designed an 8.85″ x 15″ tire especially for the Toronado called the TFD (Toronado-Front-Drive) tire. It had a stiffer sidewall than normal, and the tread and stylishly thin white pin-stripe were also unique.