29 June 2022

And so, it has come to pass.

It was a real emotional roller coaster during the last hour; I genuinely had no idea what it would do and it was nuts watching it climbing in the last 30 minutes. There’s still the paperwork and payment stuff to get through, and am hoping that it goes smoothly. The winner is just up the road in Orange County (south of Los Angeles), where I hope that he’ll respect it and enjoy its performance.

As the price kept climbing, I saw tears in my wife’s eyes, and I asked her why. She said that she was just so happy that people really did appreciate the car for what it is, instead of it potentially selling for a disappointingly low price. I know you’re wondering: It sold for $55,555!

The winning bidder posted that he wants to drive it to Laguna Seca in a couple weeks. I don’t know if he’s serious; I thought about doing the same and ruled it out because it was important for me to be at Laguna and didn’t want to risk being late. I don’t know of any reason why Midlana wouldn’t make it, but it’s a very ambitious plan, driving a car that’s a complete unknown over such a long distance (~300 miles both directions). It means that he has a couple choices:

A. Go up I-5 in the central valley, where it’s endless miles of dead-straight freeway with nothing to look at, and be >100F. An option is to cut over to Highway 101 at Paso Robles, but it’ll still be hot, traffic will be worse, and there are many stop lights.

B. Go up 1, the Coast Highway, which looks wonderful in movies and commercials, because you don’t see the endless stream of RVs during the summer months. I can see becoming very frustrated with that, as did I when stuck trailing “losers” in slow moving cars.

And hope you don’t run into rain.

Regardless, this is nearly the end of this odyssey, but I plan to stay in contact with the new owner to see how it’s going for him, and will let you guys know.

22 June 2022

First draft of the BaT description was received, reviewed, changes made, reviewed again, and approved this morning. Now it enters the BaT queue to go live sometime within the next few day (I assume). I’ll post again when it does, and off we go!

16 May 2022

Still waiting on BaT to move forward with listing Midlana.

Mikael, a Midlana builder in Sweden, said he appreciated seeing the photos that are being submitted to BaT (the link was posted in the Builder’s Forum). It hit me that I’ve completely dropped the ball on having a gallery here, which should have been added years ago, sigh. Here’s the direct link to the pics: Midlana photo gallery

Before the photographer took the above pics, I took photos of the engine bay, removing the ducting and intercooler to not waste the photographer’s time while I messed with taking the parts off. The engine pics are to show bidders what they’re getting. There’s also a few pics of the front bay. I have to figure out where to post them, because if placed here in the usual way, they’re fairly low resolution.

9 May 2022

Bring a Trailer accepted Midlana for listing and requested additional information. This is just the start, as we haven’t yet started the back-and-forth process of creating and reviewing the description.

28 April 2022

Started cleaning up Midlana inside and out in preparation of selling it on the auction site BringaTrailer.com. It was a strange feeling, realizing I was likely cleaning Midlana for the last time. Mixed and conflicted feelings, for sure.

After cleaning the engine compartment, I took photos of it with the cover on, then minus the cover, then minus the ducting and intercooler, so potential buyers know what’s inside. This also saves my buddy’s time this weekend when he helps by taking photos of the rest of the car. I’ll send in the photos and description, and it’ll  “probably” go live sometime next week. That’s in quotes because BringaTrailer has a slightly unusual business model wherein they have staffers reformat owner’s descriptions. I’m guessing that they got tired of poor and incomplete descriptions causing cars not to sell – and them missing out on the commission. To be honest, I have no idea what it’ll go for, though it doesn’t matter what I think, it’s only worth what someone will pay for it. I’ll still set a reserve in case there’s little interest and someone bids $10 – that would sting. Whoever the buyer is, it’s going to have to be a pretty special individual, someone willing and unafraid to fully understand and be capable of working on all aspects of the car, and who is also be looking for something very, very fast, and is capable of safely controlling it. That reminds me, I need to also create a disclaimer form detaching me legally from the car, because once it leaves my garage, I have no idea what’s been done to it. Anyway, I’ll let you guys know when it goes live.

11 April 2022

As announced, a “fun” car will be replacing Midlana after it’s sold. A lot of thinking and digging has gone on since my last post, (much of which has already been explained in my forum). For everyone else, the list of contenders is/was:

  • Audi RS3
  • Audi TT RS
  • Porsche Cayman GTS
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
  • BMW M2 Competition
  • Jaguar F-Type S or R

The list of limitations:

  • It’ll never see the track. I can’t imagine risking balling up something expensive.
  • There has to be at least some dealerships within a reasonable distance
  • I don’t want a physically large car. I want something that can be walked around in the garage, which cuts down on a lot of possibilities (i.e. no Corvettes or Vipers, thank you).
  • It has to have an automatic transmission, though one with “flappy paddles” would be nice. I’m tired of shifting, and an automatic means the wife can drive it as well.
  • It needs to be capable of handling shopping, day trips, or maybe even several-day trips.
  • I want something fun, something I look forward to driving, something special.

The list started getting shorter pretty fast.

Audi RS3: Left me kind of “meh.”

Audi TT RS: I liked its size, looks, and power, but at its price point, there are more interesting cars out there.

Porsche Cayman GTS: Arguably the best car in the technical sense, one that would very likely turn the fastest lap time. Thing is, I grew up in an area where they were everywhere, and they just don’t do it for me. Since it won’t be tracked, interest dropped off. Not much of a reason but that’s it.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: If I lived in the UK or Europe, I’d own this. In the US, however, Alfa’s unstable dealership structure, dealerships few and far between, reported poor quality of work, and supply chain issues, made what would have been my first choice drop off the list. A shame.

BMW M2 Competition: Ticks most of the boxes, and it’s currently the only other contender besides the one I’m focusing on at the moment…

Jaguar F-Type S or R: Yup. In my mind (right now at least), it’s the best balance of being beautiful to look at, sounds great, is somewhat affordable, drives great, and did I mention its looks? My hang up right now is choosing between the S (V6 RWD) and the R (V8 AWD). I slam between “all I need for the street is the V6”, and “the V6 RWD is a ‘light’ 3500 lbs, 300 lbs lighter than the R”, and “Who cares, it’s a cruiser for the street, and the 550 hp will certainly cure that extra 300 lbs.” The sound of both the V6 and V8 is very nice, and was apparently designed to make it part of the car’s “presentation.”

We shall see, and yes, I know, first-world problems.

22 March 2022 Big Announcement

Big Midlana continues to run well, and while the car hasn’t changed since completion, I have!

Short story: I plan to sell Midlana.

Long story:
Over the last few years, my interests have slowly been drifting, with other projects and ideas competing for garage space currently taken up by Midlana. My interests have always been diverse, including cars, astronomy, photography, gardening, koi fish, clock design and building, and even beer making (that was a while ago).

Regarding Midlana—or any hardcore sports car for that matter—I find that I’m becoming less interested. Around Southern California, cars rule and people drive everywhere. With most people back in the office after Covid, traffic sucks more than ever, and in a raw elemental sports car, sitting in stop and go traffic is “death by 1000 cuts”. It doesn’t do you in immediately, but over time, enjoyment slowly erodes away, and at some point, I realized that I wasn’t enjoying myself. My brother argues “just go early” for weekend drives. Yes, that works, but often, car events are scheduled mid-day. I find myself making excuses not to drive the car. I find myself going through the following thought process when planning to run out to a local store for something: “I could take the cover off Midlana, start it up, check it over, get belted in, and go”; “will what I need to buy fit in the car?”; “or take the truck and be back by the time Midlana is warmed up.” Another reason is that if I drive it, and it breaks, I have to fix it, and I don’t want to spend time on it right now. Anyway, it’s not a fault of Midlana, it hasn’t changed – I have.

Another moment happened at the Virginia City hill climb. Midlana did very well, but when the next event came up, I had zero interest in going… why? Instead of looking forward to an awesome experience again, I found myself making excuses: getting the time off, the hassle of renting a trailer, towing the car 500 miles, the $600 entry fee, the expense of food, gas, and a room, worrying about potential repairs, and, lastly, something that surprised me, mortality. You know that dream of having a really fast and agile car, one that’s as fast as a sport bike? What’s left out is the potential consequence of driving very fast on twisty roads. That never used to bother me, but now it bounces around in my head. People have died doing the above hill climb, and while it didn’t bother me then, but it does now.

Another life event that had an impact on me was my father passing away, and mom is currently at the point where she’s no longer sure who we (kids) are, it’s a reminder that we have only so long here, physically and mentally, and that if we want to do things, it’s better to do them now while we can.

Another event, one that’s been building for years, is that our sad old house was in dire need of a remodel. That kept getting pushed off due to me spending 100% of my time designing and building Kimini and Midlana. Then recently, my employer offered early retirement… and the time was right, so I took it. That freed up the ability to do the remodel, entirely on my own to save money, learn new things, and keep me busy. As I type this, it’s well underway, with new floor tile gradually spreading throughout the house, one bath redone, and the kitchen is nearing completion. Point being, my time is being spent elsewhere while Midlana languishes, battery charged and always ready to go. I think it’s time to pass it on to a new (and very likely younger) owner who’ll use it as intended.

I debated about this for awhile, wondering whether that people might think, “well what’s the point of buying his book and building a Midlana if his interests have shifted?” I can’t do anything about what other people think; all I can do is lay out the reasons for my own thoughts, and people can conclude whatever they want, and I’ll continue supporting the Midlana website/forum.

So, sometime this year, Midlana will likely go up for sale, most likely on Bring A Trailer (though it’s 100% street legal and runs fine, but whatever.) Oh and lastly, the draw to sports cars isn’t entirely gone from my system. The plan is to sell Midlana and my wife’s car, buying a fun car for shopping, day trips, and maybe longer road trips. Something more suitable for… sigh, older people. You know, something with heating, cooling, windows, and an automatic transmission, something that I don’t mind being stuck in traffic in. And no, it won’t be electric (for a commuter, yes, for low miles in retirement it doesn’t make as much sense). What it needs to be is to be something that I look forward to driving. We’ll see.

4 Dec 2021

Yes, real, actual car content!

Went to a “secret” car get together, sort of a miniature Cars and Coffee. This week’s make of interest was Lotus, so Midlana attended, parking a respectful distance away to not insult anyone. Just kidding, as anything and everything shows up. It was nice to get Midlana back out, and need to do more of that.

Perhaps the most interesting car was a GT-40 that sounded quite fearsome. This meet is in an area of town where for all I know, it could well be some authentic rare car from history. The owners sort of matched it, both speaking with thick German accents. For some reason, people owning exotic cars often seem to have foreign accents.

These events run every Saturday morning from 9am to noon, but I usually have a Zoom call with my mom right about that same time. Finally loaded the Zoom app to my phone and did the virtual visit with her from the meet. Sadly, we’re at the point that mom can’t form an entire sentence without forgetting what she was going to say half way through, and between that and being hard of hearing, us three kids end up talking amongst ourselves, but at least we all get to see each other.

21 Nov 2021

Took Midlana out to shake out the cobwebs and gave the wife a ride to Costco. While waiting in the car, I was reminded how stress patterns in some materials (such as Lexan) are visible when viewed through polarized sunglasses. Pretty cool.

Driving home, there were a few opportunities to open it up, and with all the noise and wearing earplugs, I could hardly tell what all the drama and arm-waving was about with my wife. It must have been her exclaiming how much fun she was having.


20 Nov 2021

Wow, didn’t realize how long it’s been since an update. I’m still here, and still have Midlana.

The big news is that our company offered early retirement—and I decided to take it. December will be the end after 26.5 years with the same company.

The first big project is the home remodel that’s been pushed off for decades due to the car projects. The remodel is already underway, gathering major parts before anything is removed. Kitchen cabinets have been ordered, but will probably be delayed along with everything else parked on cargo ships off the coast of Long Beach, California. Other than cabinets, I plan to do everything myself, because as was learned during car construction, involving others (contractors, in this case) will likely lead to disappointment. I also enjoy learning new skills, and of course, it saves a huge pile of money.

About Midlana, I’m currently waging a mental battle with myself concerning sports cars in general. Sports cars haven’t changed, but I have. In short, I don’t enjoy driving as much as I used to. Well, I take that back. I enjoy driving, but only when conditions suit the car. That is, when driving the truck to Home Depot, traffic conditions don’t really bug me. Driving Midlana in heavy traffic though, can be extremely frustrating, very much like owning a thoroughbred racing horse and only being able to walk it. For me, the joy of driving a sports car is completely ruined when traffic keeps you in low gears the entire trip… I work 25 miles from home, arriving at work at 6 am to beat traffic, and get there in 30 minutes. The problem is going home. It doesn’t matter what I’m driving, it’s going to take an hour, averaged 25 mph. Doing that for 26 years really took the fun out of it. I drove Midlana to work a total of maybe four times in about eight years, because the frustration took all the fun out of it.

“Take early weekend drives”, they said. Heading out into the back country early does indeed result in more open roads, though Sunday afternoons are not much fun because everyone who headed back from the desert in their RV /caravans, usually pulling trailers. Want to take a relaxing drive down the coast? Again, unless it’s done early, it’s a lowspeed train of cars moving from one light to the next. I can only partly blame traffic, as the other thing that’s changed is me—my interests are drifting. I’ve mentioned the 3D printer, wooden gear clocks, astronomy, koi, gardening, etc. I discovered that I’m well suited to being a homebody, and having worked from home for the last year or so, it really underscored how much I dislike traffic, never mind the 90 minutes lost everyday to sit in it. (I’m very aware of the irony, that a guy who built two cars from scratch is complaining about traffic, but oh well.)

That said, with retirement nearly upon me, driving an over-powered sports car mid-day and mid-week may rekindle some interest. There are a few back road routes I haven’t taken yet, and mid-week, it should be fairly light traffic out that way.

One reason  for the slow updates is because I want to keep this focused on Midlana, not boring you with unrelated nonsense. This will continue, so Midlana material will appear here, while my other activities are detailed on the Midlana Builder’s forum (link at the top).

25 July 2021

Chris, in the UK, has fully completed his build of Midlana #2. He, and the magazine, Practical Performance Car, were kind enough to forward a copy of the subsequent article. It’s extensive and detailed, and I couldn’t have hoped for anything better. I was also very impressed that the magazine doesn’t chop up articles with ads as is done in so many magazines. In fact, there’s not one ad intruding into the article… very refreshing. Anyway, here you go!: Chris’s PPC article (34MB)

Practical Performance Car is exactly the kind of magazine I would buy because it’s eclectic mix of interesting one-offs. These are—to coin a UK term—”shed-built” cars, not $150K rolling advertisements for shops. It’s a little disappointing that magazines like this are so few and far between here in the states. I’ve always been a bit envious of the UK, how small car manufacturing there seems to be embraced much more so than here—the irony being how our “love of cars” doesn’t seem to extend past the showroom floor.

On a related note, Chris lives near Jeremy Clarkson’s farm, and I couldn’t help but wonder if someday, Clarkson might see the car. As for what he might say about it, I’m not holding out much hope for a complement, given the interactions that the Top Gear hosts had with homebuilts in general.

In other news, the 3D printer is finished—about as finished much as any home-built project can be. 3D printing being what it is, there’ll be endless adjustments, but I must say, the very first test print turned out far better than expected.

21 June 2021

It’s not that I haven’t been working on stuff, it just hasn’t been car related. The thought process has gone something like this:
– I set out a while back to make a wood gear clock
– Cutting the parts by hand resulted in poor part accuracy and finish, and my laser printer isn’t producing accurate paper patterns.
– Never having seen what a CNC router produces, it was surprising to see how poor the results were
– Laser cutter services were considered, but at ~$700, thoughts turned to building a laser cutter
– Realized that if building a laser cutter (or most anything else for that matter), a 3D printer could be useful for various brackets
– That turned into thinking that maybe a 3D printer should be first on the list
– Saw a YouTube video of someone building a 3D-printed clock
– Started thinking about creating 3D-generated clocks instead of wood, possibly eliminating the need for a laser cutter altogether.
– Started looking at various 3D printers
– Considered Creality and Prusa
– For building a clock with a 3D printer, a decent bed size (~300mm) would be nice for large gears, which rules out Prusa
– Looking at Creality, the Ender 5 Plus is certainly large enough, though I have little need for the height
– The Ender 5 Plus reminds me a bit of a Honda owner who replaces every part of the drivetrain, then claims how awesome his “Honda” is. I’m only partly kidding, because users are saying that after they replaced the Bowden tube, extruder, hot end, added a silent controller bd, and maybe upgrade the display, and power supply, it’s really good.
– This led to, “well, if all those parts have to be replaced in a brand new unit to make it really good, maybe I should build my own from scratch.”

So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last month or so. Instead of starting from zero though, it made sense to at least start with an existing frame kit, and went with this design.

There is a lot more to the above printer build and you can find it over on the Midlana Builders Off Topic forum

I was thinking about driving Midlana to a new destination for some photo ops, but with it being 111 degrees F out there, that was put off.

9 May 2021

Been learning Alibre CAD. Looking around on YouTube, there are many videos, but Joko Engineering’s 3-part series on creating a fictitious cylinder head was exactly what I needed (I learn best by following along). All that it required was starting and stopping his video about a million times, but at the end of it, I’d successfully created a cylinder head just like his—though unlike his, mine has sparkplug holes, which he left out for some reason, hah.

I then started in on replicating Midlana’s tube frame chassis. The thinking is that eventually, the supply of first-generation Miata suspension uprights will dry up, so I’ll need to provide revised suspension geometry to mate with the later generation parts. Doing that didn’t get far, though, because unlike the cylinder head lesson where I could follow along, no one was showing me what to do. Converting a line drawing to a 3-D rendered image isn’t playing nice, which is for sure something I’m not doing right. I asked around on the Alibre forum, and one extremely helpful user has sort of taken me under his wing, going so far as sending me a couple videos on how to create a simple tube-frame structure. That’s looking promising, so regardless of what’s in the future, rest assured that I’ll continue supporting both the Midlana design and its builders.

Over on the Midlana Builder’s Forum, I go into some detail about how, after creating Midlana, I’m at a bit of a loss about where to head next in terms of cars. As mentioned, Midlana’s performance is beyond my ability, so I see little point in making something faster. There might be something different, but probably not quicker!

I just enjoy building things, not only car projects. At the moment, I feel a draw toward designing and building a laser cutter so that I can finally make that dang wooden gear clock I keep mentioning. There are already plenty of videos on people making laser cutters, but that’s not the point. It’s something new for me, so there!

25 April 2021

Took Midlana out for a few hours; it was nice to get out of the house and into the fresh air. Apparently everyone else felt the same way, because roads were really crowded, us all just slowly bumping along from one red light to the next.

In other news, as I gradually approach retirement age, in addition to the pond and garden, I’ve been gathering tools to keep myself busy in the garage, and one of those is CAD software. Because I plan to use it for many years, subscription software is a big No, yet unfortunately, that’s where the industry is headed. While it may be fine for a business, it’s a no-go for someone with a hobby that doesn’t make money. Worse, spending $500+ a year for  a decade or two is just nuts. I asked around on machinist forums to see what they use, and it was a bit funny/annoying that they kept suggesting “great” CAD packages that are, you guessed it, subscription-based. I was even offered a  free copy of SolidWorks, as in, an older version that doesn’t check the license. I decided not to for several reasons, one being that it’s like Robin Hood offering you a free flat-screen TV; it’s not their’s to give. Older versions of SolidWorks are indeed offered online—on what look like really sketchy websites. The copy I was offered might be fine, maybe, but I just can’t in good conscience go that way. After more research, I chose Alibre. Yes, there’s FreeCAD, but I’ve read enough about it that I don’t want to mess with it. There’s also the free version of Fusion 360, but the manufacturer recently neutered it a bit, souring me on what they might do to it in the future, and their pay-for product is, ta-da, subscription-based.

So, what’s the CAD for? Well, if there’s another car project, it needs CAD, and I refuse to use Google Sketchup again, so it means coming up to speed on another package. So much is going CNC: lathes, mills, routers, laser cutters, plasma cutters, and off course, 3D printers. Since CAD takes time to learn, it makes sense to start with that first, so Alibre is already installed and I’m starting in on self-imposed training. Some of you may remember me complaining about how expensive it is to get anything laser cut. If I build a CNC laser cutter, what I would have paid someone would pay for a big share of making my own.

The thing is, all the above takes space, a constant struggle for anyone working in a standard-size garage!

2 April 2021

Yes, I know, it’s been a long time…

Midlana #2, built by Chris of Worcestershire UK, has passed all required testing, license plates are affixed, and he plans a first drive this weekend! Expect updates on his driving experiences in the Midlana Builder’s Forum.

If you’re considering building your own Midlana and live in the UK, you might want to contact Chris regarding his experiences, and maybe if you ask real nice, get a ride 🙂

12 January 2021

Just been working from home. With the pandemic going on, it’s hard to justify even going out for a fun drive. While the stay-at-home rules aren’t really being enforced regarding driving, and while being in an open top car is going to be pretty safe, it just seems better to avoid any potential situations. The virus is so unpredictable; one person will get it and have zero symptoms, while another will get it and be dead in a couple weeks.

Anyway, for work reasons I had to stop by a military base, and it was pretty funny seeing a Lotus Evora in the “Recruiting Staff” parking slot. I guess that’s one way to get people to sign up, showing the glamour that comes with the job!

In other news, a Midlana builder recommended F1 car designer, Adrian Newey’s autobiography, How to Build a Car. Being new to audio books I gave it a listen and it was very interesting, hearing all about both the design process and the issues involved in getting a car on-track. Just as interesting was hearing that many times, Ferrari would copy some new feature that they saw on other cars, couldn’t get it to work, so would then protest the teams using it. Nice…

2 Dec 2020

Builder Chris, in the UK, is working his way through the process in getting his Midlana road-legal. Here’s a short video of him backing his car out of the garage after successfully completing the MOT testing! Great job, Chris, and the car looks fantastic!

27 Nov 2020

Readers of the Midlana Forum are regularly kept up to date on the near constant discounts available for the Midlana book. This week, the publisher sprung a big 30% discount on us, good through 30 November only. If you’re looking to get the book, either for yourself or as a gift, this is as good a discount as they ever give, so best to jump on it quick.

If you miss out, they typically repeat the 30% discount again before Christmas, but normally it’s less. Go to the publisher, Lulu, and search for “Midlana.” It’s available in both regular and coil-bound binding.

27 Sept 2020

Our parent’s house sold, so the weekends have opened back up somewhat. I say “somewhat” because there are always honey-dos, but that still leaves some me-time, so Midlana was taken out for the first time in about six months(!) Everything was fine, until the engine was found to rev limit right at 4,000 rpm, so it was very likely happening by design… (always be suspicious of round numbers). Glancing at the sensor values showed that lambda (air-fuel ratio) was reading “1.oo” (another suspicious round number), which is fine, except that it wasn’t changing. I expected to find that I’d forgotten to reinstall the sensor. I panicked for a second when the sensor was found installed, but then discovered that I’d committed a cardinal sin: installing the sensor but failed to latch the connector. No harm done, but it’s a reminder to not make that a habit!

In other news, Tesla just came out with their  Plaid Model S (no kidding). What’s notable about this $140,000 sedan that can carry 4-5 adults is that it has around 1,100 hp. But what’s probably a historic milestone is that you can expect to be barred from many drag strips because it doesn’t have a cage or parachute, items required for 8-second cars, which is what Tesla claims it can achieve.

Drivetrain technology aside, I’m not sure that people spending $140K want something that looks the same as the 10-yr old $60K version. And even more importantly, as impressive as its 1:30 Laguna Seca lap time is, it weighs 4,500 lbs! That’s seriously heavy for a “sports car” of any sort, and all that weight/energy has to be dealt with via the brakes and tires. The brake solution is straightforward: go huge. For the tires though, they’re going to be a very high wear item if anyone takes it to a track day event. That said, tire expense seems to be ignored these days, and I guess if you can afford a $140,000 car, tire cost isn’t a thing. In any case, it seems like we’re very near the point where electric sports cars take over as far as performance goes; all it takes now are lighter batteries to seal the deal. Notice that battery range wasn’t mentioned. The above car has a 500 mile range, so limited range is no longer a reason not to buy one (cost aside of course).