Monday, December 24, 2012

On the Noble Hemi

I am precisely the type of person you want to run into about a week into the zombie apocalypse.

I'm a MacGuyver. I can make any couple of things do a third thing. I can reverse engineer simple mechanisms, maintain household fixtures…basically keep working things running and make minor repairs. I can not, however repair, say, a car.

Oh, sure, I can change a fuse or a tire, jump start a dead battery, but real engine care? Oil changes? Knowing which parts other than a belt move or get hot or might chop my hand off? Not so much.

But I know one thing: I know how an internal combustion engine functions.

A small amount of gas "primes" the chamber, and is ignited by the spark plug, which explodes the gas and causes it to expand with force, creating mechanical energy via the piston while simultaneously priming the next stroke of the engine. Repeat a whole lot really fast and boom: car. Certain pistons are made with a hemispherical head, rather than a flat one, as the sphere is the shape with maximum surface area for minimum volume. A "hemi" allows for more chemical reaction per square inch, and thus better fuel and energy efficiency.

So why the hell do I see coffee table books for hemi muscle cars? I flipped through; there weren't any photos of engines. No exploded views of steel parts, no apparati. They might as well call it "Pictures of Pretty Chassis."

Technically, it'd be bodies, not chassis, but the point is I shouldn't be able to have a correct opinion about automotive anything.

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