The Need for Speed

After passing a lazy Malibu, a short stretch of interstate opens up. A teasing token from the Gods of Gridlock and Crowded Highways.

I switch open the active exhaust. The beast takes the cue and growls dauntingly. A deep monstrous rumble, she’s impatient. It’s been too slow for too long. For her. For me.

My skin crawls with trepid elation, like the high-octane snake running through her veins.

At 70 MPH, I drop into third gear, increasing RPM to match her speed.

In appreciation of anticipation, I hesitate before punching it; a moment to relish the roar and reverberations of 526 horses snarling menacingly and ready to bust all-ass loose.


It’s game on.

Like a cat on the prowl, she hunkers down and blasts off with an explosive roar—all teeth and claws.

The creature’s alive with punishing Gs as she forces me firmly against the seat. My upper lip curls into a devious grin, 100 MPH and accelerating like the proverbial bat.

Vision narrows with a predator’s instinct.

Heart pounding to the pulse of her eight pistons spinning a flat-plane crank, and I’m giddy as all fucking hell.

A daring glance at the speedometer shows 120 MPH and climbing, swiftly.

8,250 RPM sees a quick stab into fourth gear.

Up ahead, the span closes rapidly.

Too rapidly.

But she’s hungry: 130, 135, 140 MPH (225 KPH), twice the legal speed limit, and still the rate of acceleration seems yet to diminish.

But, just that quick, in less time than it takes to read this post, she’s devoured the road. It’s over. I have to back her off.

Until another day.

Another day and maybe the Gods will shower their gratuity once more—but with a slightly longer stretch of the open road, and like this day, one without the highway patrol.

One can only pray.

Where It All Started

It’s 1970.

I’m 16.

And an addict.

Like dragons, I’m psychologically dependent on shiny things. Things like sparkling fast cars, and the shinier and quicker they are, the more my need, not to mention expense.

It began with this ’69 Mustang Mach 1, 428 CU IN, 330 HP, Cobra Jet.

That’s my mother (RIP) and me in my Levi high-water jeans and Bass wingtips. Not exactly a teenage sex symbol, but the chicks dug the car. I don’t think they noticed the groovy shoes. Or me, for that matter.

A friend of a friend painted the Cobra Jet on the rear fenders. I thought it looked hip at the time; not so much today.

Well, all things come and go.

The year was sliding away, and my addiction to shiny fast things became somewhat sedated. A flame diminished but never extinguished, which I attribute to the beginnings of a family that grew into three kids, 7 grandkids, and soon-to-be 7th great-grandchild. See, there was a gal whose fancy I caught after all. She said it was my long legs that attracted her. But don’t let her fool you; it’s not my legs she’s referring to.

Enter 2017…

I’ve been lusting over the new 6th generation Mustangs for a time when suddenly, one day I snapped, a relapse, and I found myself inexplicably at a local Ford dealer. How I got there, I haven’t a clue. But there I was, dazed and spun-eyed, chuckling and salivating over an orange Mustang like a drooling inbred.

Here’s me and the same chick from fifty years ago, posing by our 2016 Pony Car. It’s not a GT 5.0 Mustang, like the salesman tried to sell me, but then who needs 435 HP anyway?

Secretly I yearned.

There was a smile on my face, but inside, I burned with desire: I needed more; more horsepower, more torque, more handling, more RPM, more top-end.

I needed racing strips.

And a shiny black spoiler.

Tinted windows.

Salvation came on a Sabbatical Saturday, January 2, 2021, as I heard angels sing hallelujah from the heavens.

And here she is, the last of the breed, a 2020 GT350 Shelby Mustang. I call her GT VUDO after the engine’s Ford given nickname, Voodoo. She’s a naturally aspirated beast possessed with 526 HP, 429 LB-FT, spinning a flat-plane crankshaft that redlines at 8,250 RPM. (That’s no typo.) Cut loose the rein, and she’ll scream like a banshee and dart like a jackrabbit chased by a Coyote while she cradles you snugly in her grasp.

Orange too.

Whatever happens here on, I’ll die happy: the right woman, the right car, an extended family, and a good home. A man would be a fool to ask for more.

But then, there is the new GT500…

JLT Oil Separator

JLT Oil Separators

JLT Oil Separator, why you may want one. But before we go there, a word on crankcase ventilation.

Blow-by is combustion material blowing past the piston rings and into the crankcase. If not ventilated, this material condenses and mixes with the oil vapor, forming sludge and diluting the oil with unburnt fuel. Thus it becomes necessary to ventilate the crankcase.

Earlier engines let blow-by products leak through gaskets and seals. Not cool.

Later came the draught tube, a pipe running from the valve cover down into the slip-stream of a moving vehicle that created a draft that sucked the vapors out of the crankcase. A breather cap in the valve cover supplied the air for ventilation and prevented negative pressure in the crankcase.

Today we use a PCV system, Positive Crankcase Ventilation.

By utilizing the intake manifold vacuum, crankcase vapor is drawn through a breather into the crankcase through a PCV valve that acts as a flame arrester and regulates the flow of combustion byproducts back into the intake, carrying with it oil vapor.

Filtering consists of a fine mesh stainless steel screen that traps fine oil vapors and releases them once heavy enough to fall. Photo from JLT

Oil vapor back into the intake can cause carbon buildup on the intake valves and coat blower rotors and intercooler fins in addition to lowering the octane level.

To help prevent this, install an oil separator, also called an oil catch can. It’s a simple, less than a thirty-minute job for any reasonably capable DIY’er, discounting any possible project creep.

JLT oil separators use a fine mesh stainless filter screwed on top of a three-ounce canister. This, placed in line with the PCV hose, separates oil from the crankcase vapors.

As a reminder, make cleaning the oil separator a part of every oil change.

Please, dispose of the oil in an environmentally friendly way. Photo from JLT

My Mustang has one. It traps about a teaspoon of oil around 2000 high-revving miles. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when it comes to performance, every little bit helps. And I like a clean engine, inside and out.

I installed a JLT oil separator on my easy-going Tacoma. So far, the container is clean as a whistle, but that’s expected under average driving conditions for most vehicles. What happens on a hard-hitting 3000-mile road trip towing a 4000-pound RV? I don’t know yet. But, I’ll post the results in a comment below afterward.

Oil separators are not CARB certified.

Learn more here:

NOCO Genius 2D

NOCO Genius 2D Onboard Battery Charger

She stables in the garage, wild and untamed, ready to bust out. But rarely allowed to flex her muscles, and never in wet or wintery weather. And because there’s a slight (but normal) parasitic draw of her electronics (somewhere around 25-40-milliamp), I installed the NOCO Genius 2D onboard, direct mount battery charger, and maintainer under her feather-weight aluminum hood.

The NOCO Genius 2D is a 115 Volt x 12 Volt 2 Amp fused and completely automatic tender that “features an integrated thermal sensor that automatically monitors and adjusts the charging cycle based on fluctuations of ambient temperature.” Advanced diagnostics keep you informed about your battery’s condition: temperature, reverse polarity, bad battery, battery short, and high voltage. That’s a bunch in a little package for less than forty-bucks.

Noco Genius 2D Onboard Battery ChargerIts black compact design fits well in the surrounding décor of the 5.2L beast and withstands the grueling heat of the engine compartment while GT Vudo unleashes her 526 horses and 429 lb/ft torque.

Using 8×1/2″ flathead countersunk screws, I secured the included mounting bracket to an L-bracket and wrapped the bracket assembly in black electrical tape to match the underhood blackness, then bolted it to a spare mounting hole on the under-hood fuse box with a self-locking nut.

The positive lead I fastened to the aft terminal on the terminal block that runs directly to the battery’s positive terminal. The negative lead I secured to an existing ground on the strut housing. You can, if you prefer, connect the Genius 2D directly to the battery. For aesthetic and routing reasons, I opted not to.

With the Genius 2D in place, I used black wire loom and wire ties to complete the professional look.

Noco Genius 2D Onboard Battery ChargerThe NOCO pulses red when the battery is under 75% charge. Green pulses indicate the bulk charge is complete as it continues to optimize the battery. Solid green shows the battery at 100%. And slow pulsing green indicates an ongoing optimization. It all works to extend battery life without the risk of overcharging your battery. Like the innovative folks at NOCO say, it’s a more powerful, compact, and incredibly smart device.

It’s backed by a 3-year hassle-free warranty.



Remember when you got your driver’s license? The excitement. I live that. I’m an automotive enthusiast, love to drive, love to tinker, and polish. I’m one with the vehicle, a cyborg.

Driving is recreational, if not medicinal, a chance to get out and see the countryside or cityscape. Whether it’s a quiet morning commute or rocking out to the Rolling Stones on the way to grab some vegan fare. Or perhaps a little Esteban on a slow Sunday cruise with the wife in her Beetle—top down, sun shining. The Beetle’s top-down, dude, not the wife. Get your mind out of the gutter. Although we do occasionally… well, here ain’t the place.

I enjoy the hours driving cross-country, seeing new places, RV in tow, which can sometimes prove challenging on back roads and crowded gas stations designed for little more than a Fiat 500 (cool little car, BTW). It all made for some entertaining tales, those experiences. But as the old saying goes, smooth seas don’t make skilled sailors. Ditto for drivers on the open road.

What I like best—on a summer-like day when the heat of the blacktop gets blistering hot and the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires get gummy like glue and adhere to the road like proverbial stink on shit—is a spirited sprint in the GT350. I call her GT Vudo (as in Voodoo, Mustang owners get the allusion)—the ripping, roaring thunder of 526 naturally aspirated horses unleashed. The exhilaration of acceleration. It’s damn near orgasmic. No forced induction required. Although I consider the mod. Shh, mum’s the word.

No matter what or where or how I drive, courtesy and safety are important. I might punch the gas and burn a little rubber now and then, but I’m rarely over the speed limit. Unless there’s a begging stretch of lonesome interstate. Then all bets are off.

Most drivers, at least a significant number, are cautious and courteous. Others are rude if not downright dangerous or dangerously distracted. It seems most everyone’s in a damn hurry. A hurry to go where? To do what? Get to a job they don’t like. A hot-foot home to watch boob-tube propaganda, YouTube maybe.

Slow down, be in the moment.

I’ve seen people get all giddy shopping for a car, buying new air-conditioned, comfortable, sleek-looking mechanical marvels that set their hearts on fire, then when at last they’re behind the wheel, seems they can’t wait to get out.

We’ve all seen the impatient driver while we idle away in a traffic jam. They’re going nowhere fast, but still, they try, riding your bumper, swapping lanes, cutting you off, and all-out general rudeness. Relax, spin the tunes, count your blessings. Better stuck in a traffic jam, than the one caused a traffic jam. Stay calm and you’ll reach your destination. That person up ahead might not be so lucky.

Drive safe. Be courteous.