On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff
Thanks sincerely for coming by.
Dennis Simanaitis sees this website as an opportunity to share enthusiasms with kind readers, including those who followed his 33-year career as Engineering Editor at Road & Track magazine. Before that, he worked for the Society of Automotive Engineers (now SAE International). He was Associate Engineering Editor for its monthly Automotive Engineering magazine; later he served as Manager of its Member Relations Division. An earlier career was teaching mathematics at the College of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas. His educational background is in this subject, with a B.S. degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute; an M.A. from Western Reserve University; and a Ph.D., specialty: dynamical systems theory (sort of differential equations without the dirty bits), from Case Western Reserve University.
He has managed to get this far in life without ever having a real job. His good fortune seems to be continuing.
A contact point: email@example.com.
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013
They’ve all been quite informative and enlightening (a good word, that)! Keep up the good “work ” – the world is a better place because of it.
That is because he drives a Morgan!.
Full disclosure (and I hope it won’t diminish your enthusiasm), The Mrs. (as we called our Plus Four 4-Passenger Family Tourer) is no longer in our family. An enthusiast in Long Beach is her new pal.
Our current cars are the Mazda Miata and Honda Crosstour, each talked about here at the website.
We looked at a Cross tourer after all the trouble we had with the Volvo V50 purchased in Sweden. Bought a MINI Countryman cause it is hard to find a car that has all wheel drive, carry a Golden and has a MANUAL trans! We still have the 2002 Cooper S bought in 2001. Figure that one out. The +4 and +8 along with the S stay in the sealed garage till Spring. The Country
man is a winter rat.
Since we share so many enthusiasms it occurs to me that you might enjoy the mystery novels written by Edmund Crispin. They feature an English professor named Gervase Fen and always have a few other eccentrics. Occasionally one catches a glimpse of his car, Lilly Christine III” and inspired chase scenes.
For no easily discernible reason they remind me of the late, lamented Henry N. Manny III.
Thanks, David. Sounds neat.
Oh my gosh, I must admit I completely forgot about Henry N !
When I think about this unique man, it reminds me a R&T shot of him all dressed in gothic armour riding a motorized skateboard, no less ! Thanks David !
Dennis, any news from our other old friend Peter Egan ?
Ses écrits nous manquent beaucoup !
Bonne année, Monsieur Dennis. All the best.
Yes, HNM III was “un type.” One day I must collect stories of him and post them here.
I believe Peter continues to appear in Cycle World magazine. He still lives in Wisconsin, in what I’d call semi-retirement.
Dennis,I know that I’m not the only one who would LOVE to read HNM’s collected writings.How can I help?Tom Anderson I wrote a short letter to R&T after his passing. I found myself reading a few sentences in the mag a few months later that sounded familiar … and then I realized that they’d published the letter I wrote. First time for everything! I was so proud!!!
Would you or could you know or suggest a writer that would be interested in interviewing a widow of the B-24 pilot that flew secret bombing missions over
She has a wealth of information and accompanied him a few years back on six week journey to visit his remaining crew.
I am a personal friend and suggested this to her to keep this information alive.
I am not sure who I am talking to, but I may have someone to do the interview of the pilot’s wife. I have talked with Dennis many times on Morgans.
The person’s name is Louis C Langone. I taught with him many years.
Louis wrote a WW2 book called “Star in the Window”. It was a series of interviews with WW2 people. The book can be seen at http://www.hickoryhillbooks.com
His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
He said he would be interested in talking with you.
I also remember fondly yr fthfl srvt – and promoted a Christmas prsnt some years ago of the book Road & Track released with many if not most of his columns: Henry Manney At Large and Abroad. (https://www.librarything.com/work/5392180/get/). Don’t know if it’s still available new, though used copies should be. Must be pulled out at least once a year or so to re-read.
If you still have THAT Miata (the one that was R&T’s long-term tester), then it gives me hope for the continued survival of my Protege5. I call it my Miata SUV – fun to drive, agile, quick enough though the average econobox these days is probably quicker, and space in back and on top (with the standard roof rack bars suitably loaded) for all my daughter’s stuff when moving to/from college. And it’s paid for.
Right on both counts: I have Henry ‘s anthology in my “futures” pile. I’m savoring it now to pick out especially choice bits.
And, yes, we still have the original Long Term Miata, no. 348, as I recall.
Dennis and all —
Does someone out there remember or have access to the EEFF, the Engineering Editor’s Fun Factor, from days long ago? I was reminded of it seeing stories about the latest Porsche 911 Turbo S and the Miata. Is the 911 more fun?
By the way, for non-subscribers, Peter Egan has a (typically delightful) column in the latest Road and Track — on visiting the Morgan factory!
I’ll dig out EEFF and talk about it here. There was another early computerized bit of R&T as well.
Good to hear Peter is continuing his wonderful writing, especially that he’s visited my favorite auto works.
Thank you for the E2F2 item. Your hint about Excel was helpful; entering a few modest formulas, including the 0.4 power function, produced a handy E2F2 spreadsheet, Some results: VW GTI (R&T, Nov 2012): 98.88. Miata (July 2012): 99.40. Porsche Carrera S (Feb 2012): 113.96. Corvette ZR1 (Oct 2012): 114.67. Porsche Boxster (Aug 2011): 115.13. (Sadly, R&T no longer includes slalom speed, thus the earlier tests here.) My son, who has a 1991 MR2, suggests a “fun to work on” item, which I like, even if difficult to quantify. Thanks for the fun!
I read at least 20 years of your columns in R&T. I credit you with teaching me the entire foundation of my automotive knowledge, which is less than some but more than most. My passion for all things automotive began when I learned from you how various systems work together.
Thank you for the enthusiasm with which you approach your work. It is contagious and I have shared it with others many times. Again, thanks for everything!!
Many thanks for your kind words. They’re much appreciated.
I just found your blog while searching for info on Peter Egan, having culled all my old R&T issues from the basement and pulling the columns out before recycling the rest of the issues.Egan, you, and the occasional Allan Girdler column are mostly what I’m keeping, along with a few issues containing road tests of cars I’ve owned. I look forward to catching up with so many things from your columns here, thanks for doing this.
I’m having a ball here (with a somehat broader choice of topics than I had at R&T). It’s fun to recall those days as well.
I have a set of R&T, every issue from 1947 to about 1990, and they are my most prized possessions. They take a while to move, but not because there are so many boxes – I just can’t resist re-reading all my favourite contributors including Dennis S, Peter Egan, Tony Hogg, Dick O’Kane and also Brockbank and Stan Mott. These magazines gave me untold hours of enjoyment, taught me all about cars, and taught me a fair bit about writing. Thanks Dennis!
And many thanks to you, Lawrence.
Just looking at the cover of a 1996 R&T Magazine issue with Dennis sitting in a Ferrari 355 Spider, wearing a floppy hat. What a life! : )
Jimmy, I still have the hat. The 355 Spider is long gone.
Today I accidentally stumbled upon this website while searching for something else, and I really enjoyed it. It’s very entertaining and educational. My only problem is that I was so entertained that I lost track of the time and was late for work!!
I just stumbled upon your website while take a break from grad school homework (I’ve been in the engineering industry for many years, but more education is always beneficial). It looks like you have plenty of great future distractions for me here. I’m glad to see your content here and always found interesting insights in your R&T articles.
Dave, Thanks for your kind words. Hit those books, though.
Hello Dennis: thought that some of the information in this article fit in with topics that recur in your interesting site: http://www.alatown.com/?s=citroen&submit=Search Hope that you enjoy. Bob
R&T dropped you, so I dropped them. I just found you again. I can Breath again.
Question. I just heard from a friend that his truck was totaled because he was off-road in a position where on wheel was off the ground. The ABS released the brakes! He said the same kind of thing can happen with a car in snow.
I’ve never heard this before. Have you?
Thanks for your kind words.
Years ago, Kim Reynolds and I did a test on ABS at the time, including ice and snow. One thing we dispelled was the myth about the wedge of snow of a locked wheel being better than ABS.
No system I know would release all four brakes with one wheel off the surface, but, of course, I haven’t driven ALL vehicles with ABS.
The better systems (perhaps all of them these days) monitor and act on each wheel independently. If one wheel appears to be locked, for whatever reason, its pressure would be released. But the other three wheels would still be braking.
In the old days (and possibly today on lesser systems), there were splits of ABS monitoring, perhaps front/rear, or front left/front right/rear or … you get the picture. It saved money by not requiring four of everything.
Say it’s a front/rear system and one front wheel is off the ground (thus maybe being interpreted as locked). Then the ABS might release the other front wheel brake pressure. However, the rear brakes being monitored would still be operating.
Obviously I don’t know full details of the accident, so my thoughts here are only suppositional and theoretic. The only thing I can debunk with any reliability is the wedge argument, whether on gravel, sand or snow. all of which we tested. We also tested on an ice rink, where I recall the car took a long distance to stop, whether its ABS was functioning or disconnected. (Mercedes offered us a car specially equipped with an ABS Defeat switch.)
Hey Dennis, over at R&T’s site there’s a discussion about What Is a Sports Car? You may recall your featured article from the March 1984 issue on that subject. IIRC you said it was a car that one could drive to the track; race; and drive home. I sure do miss your stuff and am happy to have bumped into this site of yours.
At least, the cover of that R&T had the first and the last of “real sports cars”.John
Speaking of engineering, this month I bought my daughter a 2016 Spark LS CVT, which reminds me a bit of my 84 and 86 CRXs. Anyway, I have been pleasantly surprised by the 1.4L and CVT pairing. Question: when stopped at say, a stoplight, with the transmission in D, is the belt turning with the engine pulley, and slipping against the other one?
I’ve searched and cannot find where to start new topics, so will try here. My question starts with wandering through the Auburn, Indiana Labor Day auction and coming across a Lamborghini Diablo being prepped for the auction. I asked the guy doing the prep about the car and he noted that one of the computer modules had failed and locating a replacement was difficult and very expensive.
Today’s cars are much better built and can easily last, mechanically, for a few hundred thousand miles. I’m concerned that the electronic components will deteriorate from age and make the vehicle useless. To the point, we have a 2005 Caddy CTS with the 3.6 that has been flawless in its 45,000 miles and I’d like to keep it but am worried that one day we will try to start it, only to find a failed and unavailable module. What are your thoughts on this subject?
Take care and don’t stop!
Talk about planned obsolescence. I’d imagine that popular cars may have 3rd. party replacement modules available, but some smaller volume models may well be out of luck.
Hi Dennis…I shared old buildings and colleagues with you at CVI…Larry Gumbs, upward bound. 1969-73
Hello from Greece, i stumbled on your blog while searching info on GLENN MARTIN, MY HOME AIR SPACE: ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA was your article written on March 29,2014.Iam writing a children’s picture book about him. I would appreciate any info on him as akid or anything relevant to his speeches about his work. Although i have contacted the Museum in Maryland about Glenn, i still can’t find out if there are any sktetches or drawings while he was thinking of planes. I am thrilled with this Brilliant aviator, all started three months ago while i was writing for a group of writers since then i got glued on this extraordinary person. Thank you Dennis for your help, I would appreciate any suggestions possible, since i am searching on newspaper covers and archives to trace more info, Greetings from Greece, Agatha Rodi
Just returned from a trip to Chicago (Evanston, actually), and southern Wisconsin, and appreciated the Simanitis Says background. On the way to Ken’s Klassics shop in rural Wisconsin, we passed Teliesin (unfortunately the schedule didn’t allow a stop), so your Frank Lloyd Wright item was perfect. Then we visited the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois, an unexpected gem. The Guest House there reminded me of your piece comparing Katsura and Nikko design. Their guest house was clearly an example of the Katsura style, simple and understated. As always, thanks for your wide-ranging and informative work.
Many thanks for your kind comments. They’re much appreciated.
I thought of you a few weeks ago when camping at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Had the prividlidge of seeing not 1, but 3 Fokker WWI Aeroplanes, flying about. Also, they built one of the most accurate reproductions of the Spirit of St. Louis, and we got to see it taxi…its a great place to see…
Sounds neat indeed!
Thank you for your explanation of Eisen glass. I went looking for an explanation after listening to Oklahoma! for the upteenth time and finally decided to finally find an answer to “what the heck IS that stuff?” Now I know.
Thank you, Laura. I was curious as well.
Is this the car featured in the movie The Quiet Man?
The website bookkeeping is faulty in this regard. Posting in “About the Author” doesn’t identify just which car you’re talking about. Hmm… A good puzzle. “The Quiet Man” is that wonderful John Wayne/Ireland flick, right? I don’t recall a car being especially featured. Please tell me more.
I’ve boasted for nearly forty years how you bounced out to the parking lot at R&T’s home base in Newport Beach to talk about headlight patterns for a solid hour with the wife and me in our new 1980 Accord, though we were total strangers and unannounced.
Your theory at the time was that Detroit avoided sharp cutoffs because they highlighted normal bobbing, telegraphing a subtle message that the car was crummy. Boats back then we wanted, boats they gave us.
Thanks, Tom, for your kind words (and a great memory).
Hello Dennis, I’ve been reading R&T since 1965. Always loved your articles. I remember one where you talked about the weight of sports cars and how they were getting heavier and heavier. At the end of the article you said something like “…weight always catches up.” A true sports car was somewhere in the 2,000 pound range or less. I don’t understand “sports cars” weighing 2 tons or more!
Can you direct me where to find that article?
I’ll have to research it. I honestly don’t recall saying it, but I sure do agree.
Hi Dennis, just for your info, I was able to release the Phoenix 1989 track for the racing sim I told you about. A special thank you to you as you helped me by digging out some pics from your archives. Thanks again, and here’s the result:
Bonjour Monsieur Dennis. Yesterday I was cleaning my library and found a 2002 issue of R&T. I read your report on then new M-B C230 coupe/hatchback (!). Man, do I ever miss your writing. Your Tech Tidbits and all. I saw names long gone from the R&T roster, Rusz, Egan, Hong, Mitani, Rob Walker, Hill,Hall and on and on. All with impressive talent and credentials to say the least !
So many I dearly miss. Paul Frère, Rob Walker !
Kim Wolfkill, then Online services editor, the last Editor in chief ’till the recent move to New York… Sad.
I know the times are tough on magazines finances, the necessary scale downs, but still… I guess R&T survived lately with the revenus brought by WeatherTech and Harbour Freight.
Who cares for a nobody’s opinion on such or such other car ? Where are their credentials? I hear Jack Baruth is retiring… I like Sam Smith. Reminds me somewhat of Peter.
Anyway. Like Bob sang “The times they are a changing”…
All the best to you, Sir and to your loved one – Dottie, right?
Marc René Yvon, Varennes, Québec.
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Dennis, I am only familiar with your work at R&T and “says”, but have never failed to be informed, stimulated and delighted by your work. When’s a book coming out?Thank you. Ken.
Thanks for your kind words. They’re much appreciated.
I am here because I was going through about 20 issues of Automobile Quarterly.
I happened to run across Vol 10 #1 and saw the Hirondel illustrations so went to the web for more images and there really aren’t any. Nice to run across your page, a pleasant surprise Dennis. Wishing you all the best and Happy New Year!
Thanks for your kind words. A Joyous New Year to you and yours as well.
Vermissa Valley. Who knew it would bring me to your site and you! I discovered Audible, where Sherlock Holmes narrations opened up something I didn’t previously appreciate: Conan Doyle’s portrayals of turn of the century America. Vermissa seemed so real and now I know it is. A lady engineer since 1974, a former Alfa Romeo car club member and continuing car enthusiast, now in a CX5 with a Miata gleam in the eye. Best wishes and thanks for the years of great writing!
Hello, Ana Maria,
Bless your heart; thanks sincerely for your kind words. I hope you continue enjoying Alfas, Holmes, and the website.
Regarding the Poguar pogo stick — I found a reference to it in the R&T “Road Test” of the Hop Rod, in the April 1973 issue. It refers to the test of the Poguar XK-25M in January 1955. My R&T collection goes back a ways but not that far!
Thanks again for all the stimulating, fascinating posts.
Thanks for your detective work. I have them back to 1952, but some (including 1955) are accessible only with garage exploration.
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On your site showing Paulhan’s biplane flying near a hot-air balloon above the 1910 L. A. Air Meet grandstand (a postcard photo like one I have) you note the image as “evidently a pre-Photo Shop addition” is what I also suspected.
Then I ran across a photo on the https://waterandpower.org/museum web site of photos of the Air Meet showing Mr. Paulhan’s plane equally as close to a similar hot-air balloon at the air meet probably shot from the ground. This left me wondering if the photo you note on your site might actually be a real photo rather than composite photo. So far I have not found an actual photograph of that specific mage or any single images that could have been combined (plane, balloon, grandstand) but still wonder if such real photo may exist.”
A good puzzle, this. And wouldn’t it be typical of that era’s brave exploits! Thanks for your thoughts.
I just signed up with AAAS, partly to support science, partly to get my own “Science” magazine — and partly because of the excerpts seen on simanaitissays. Now I can go back and read the whole article, and other fascinating pieces.
I too find AAAS Science a valuable resource, especially in these multiply troubled times.
Do enjoy the AAAS Members Forum. It’s informative, fact-filled, and occasionally a hoot. —Dennis
Recently I came into possession of a copy of the TVR Gold Portfolio published by Brooklands Books.
It included “350i The Harris Tweed of Automobiles”, I saw yours and John Lamm’s name as co-authors. Just wanted to say
that I really enjoyed the sidebar enclosed with the article titled “Names Scratched on the Cottage Wall” .
Seeing your name (which I recalled reading over the years) prompted me to ‘google” and I landed on your blog.
Glad you are still active.
Thanks, Herb, for your kind words.
So glad to have found this site. I’d like to thank you for your scores of witty and detailed R&T articles over the years, which I pored over as a car-obsessed teenager in the ’90s. I particularly remember a comparo between the Del Sol VTEC and Miata, which led me to spend every cent of my meager college-student budget buying and modifying a used ’95 MX-5–long gone now, but still the best car I’ve ever owned. Thanks for bringing the experience of driving all those memorable cars into our living rooms, where we all get to enjoy it. Cheers!
95 Miata? My favorite sports car ever! If it were a tiny bit bigger I’d still have it!
Agreed, our Miata challenges my creaky back. Crawling in with the top up isn’t a pretty sight. So I just keep the top stowed and use the OEM tonneau cover.
Agreed, Miatas are best used on sunny days. I had mine in the Bay Area so it was (mostly) sunny. Your SoCal location is ideal.
Thanks sincerely for your kind words and extended readership. I agree about the Miata; we still have the original R&T one in our garage; the Crosstour sits out.
Hey Dennis this your cousin from Pa! See that you are doing well and enjoying your blog!
Like many others, I’m overjoyed to have accidentally found your site. I’d been a fan of reading Road &Track since I was 16 and had kept most all of my issues since 1977. I even had lunch with Doug Kott to discuss a prospective April issue road test story. My Dad had also worked for John R. Bond in McCollough’s R&D Dept in the early 50’s before joining and going overseas with Douglas Aircraft. It was a part of our relationship to discuss stories and reviews in the latest issue as I inherited his love of cars and racing stories. I look forward to making my way through your decade of musings here !
Thanks sincerely for your kind words. I hope you enjoy the website. I’m having a ball with its research and composition.
I am reaching out to inform you of the passing of Dr. James A. Dougherty, Sept 20, 2021 in Santa Barbara, CA surrounded by his family. You can reach me at (314) 651-3462. He always spoke well of you and reminisced of the days in St Thomas that you spent together.
William J. Dougherty
I am saddened to hear of your, Kitty’s, and your mother Sally’s loss. Jim and Sally were good pals in a great life’s adventure. .
Greetings, Dennis. I recently rediscovered your most entertaining saga of the cross-country trip by Mini Moke. Now that’s style! And I thought our round trip from Omaha to Indy by MGA was impressive.
As I skim through my old R&Ts I’m repeatedly taken by the high quality of the content and writing produced by you and the rest of the staff. Those really were the good old days — nothing like it today.
I dropped C&D and R&T. Been reading them from the beginning and still have them all.You have to be 20 something to enjoy them.John
I dropped C&D and R&T. Been reading them from the beginning.
Only 20-30 years olds would enjoy them. Still have all the copies.
Dennis would understand. I am also a Morgan owner.
I agree about the current publications (and web-thingies). Hopefully you’ve found the You-Tube channel done by Harry Metcalfe, Harry’s Garage. It’s properly fuddy-duddyish for us older guys.
I’m glad I found some of “the old guard” from R&T’s heyday still writing… keep up the great work!
Thanks, Eric, for your kind words.
It’s a great retirement hobby.
Dennis, in 1991, I was a young commercial banker courting a company which made (and continues to do so) titanium valves for racing engines. I was doing my due diligence… tougher in a pre-Google world. As a long-time R&T reader, I took a flyer and faxed you some questions; I was hoping to benefit from your engineering prowess. You responded very quickly; I closed the deal. Some 30+ years later and after a 25 year career with Ford, I still have an engine value from my customer on my desk- a Ferrari F1 valve. It was one of a few career highlights and you were a part of it…
Many thanks for your assistance. Much appreciated.
Your kind recollection gets my 2023 off to a brilliant start. Thanks immensely for sharing it.
I just stumbled across your site while searching for information on DeLong camshafts for an MGB. I am glad to see that you are doing well, and I really miss your writings, and those of all of the other old hands at the old Road & Track. Best wishes.
Many thanks, Dan. Your kind words are much appreciated. I hope you enjoy the website.