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Jeremy Clarkson Talking About Cars

Jeremy Clarkson compared getting behind the wheel of a GT40 to "opening a door and finding Carmen Diaz in there, naked and bored"

(Talking about men who drive convertibles) "You can't, when you have a hair-hole and a gut the size of one of Saturn's moons, drive through the populated area of any town with the roof off of any car without people sniggering. But in my Ford GT40 I shall look like Steve McQueen. In your drop top 911 you'll look like a prize vegetable.

"Motorbikes are much cheaper than cars to run. In fact it takes only half a litre of fuel to get from your house to the scene of your first fatal accident."

"People have tried to be kind, saying that it's challenging and that it's unusual. But the simple fact of the matter is this: it's as ugly as an inside-out monkey."

I've just been on a family holiday and our Range Rover was barely able to handle the requirements of five people. In a Lexus 450, you'd have to leave one of the suitcases, or children, at home. Or go to a nudist camp.

There is a British Lawn Mower Racing Assoc, which holds races twice a month - the cheapest form of motor sport you can find (they have to be capable of cutting grass, and you can't put in a bigger engine)

Engineers are working to create the world's first 130mph lawnmower. A team at Honda has installed a motorcycle engine in a mower after a challenge from Top Gear magazine. Honda said: 'The main challenge stems from the need to retain the look of the lawnmower, and the ability to still cut grass, while achieving the speed and the handling.' Explaining why it had commissioned the project, Top Gear's Piers Ward said: 'The grass needed mowing and everything on the market seemed a bit slow.'

Jay Leno

Has a large collection of cars and motorbikes, showed off his Y2K motorcycle - powered by a helicopter jet turbine, which it makes it go reeeely fast. The gas exhausts at 1200 degrees centigrade, and the back brake light has an LED warning not to get too close. Leno said he was waiting at a traffic light when a Nissan Infiniti pulled up behind - Leno could see the guy's bumper melting as the driver tried to get close enough to read the warning

Jay Leno article on the ultimate pickup truck, International CXT. Basic model costs $90,000 but you can option it up to $115,000. 21 ft long but cab is 9ft off ground which Leno thinks is a big advantage, particularly in California, because you can pull up alongside a woman in a convertible and get a cleavage shot you'd never get in an ordinary pickup.

College in Kansas offers 4 year graduate course in auto restoration, producing technicians for the increasing number of auto rest shops across US. Part sponsored by Jay Leno, who has his own museum/garage of classic cars. Train students on pre-1936 cars which had wooden frames and metal skins, so they become proficient in both wood and metal tech. Leno said that one of reasons he enthusiastically supports college is that 10 years ago he had tried to get gears made for his Duesenberg. He eventually found an 80 yo guy in Chicago who was able to do it for him, but all old skills were being lost.

Popular Mechanics column he talked abt his Duesies (4812 were built in 1930's, he has 7). Impressive engines - supercharged straight 8 which cd turn out 320hp, at a time when Cadillacs V8's gave you 90hp. Problem that all D owners face is spares are hard to come by and cylinder heads in partic are unobtainable, so many D's are permanently laid up, undriveable. But Leno has found an enthusiast who has tracked down the original blueprints and is recasting them (in cast iron) for $42,000 a pop with valves installed . (The double overhead valves took a tech a week to set - designed in a time when labour cheap and tech expensive).

Leno says he makes his family exchange all their gifts on Xmas Eve, so that on Xmas morning he's free to take one of his cars out for a drive a) freeways empty b) cops more charitable

Car Racing

Graham Hill is the only man to have won racing's "Triple Crown" - F1 Championship (1962 and 1968), Indianapolis 500 (1966) and the Le Mans 24 Hour (1972). He is also part of only father and son world champions (his son Damon was champion in 1996). Remarkably, he first drove a car at age of 24.

Disabled Drivers

A young man with an empty sleeve or a prosthetic leg is routinely greeted in smalltown America with a respectful 'thank you for your service'. British army veterans by contrast are almost invisible. Many struggle with mental health problems, repeated nightmares. Thanks to a few underfunded charities they can be matched up with employers but it is rarely easy. What then to make of the practice of hiring injured ex-soldiers as chauffeurs? It's catching on among wealthy businessmen for whom the ultimate luxury is the parking space reserved for disabled drivers. It makes getting to a lunch appointment at a swanky London restaurant that much easier. Pretty cynical, or a useful bit of job creation?

Cars in China

Chinese copy anything, but caused a stir when they started copying entire cars, because conventional wisdom that can't make money without huge economies of scale. But there are copies of BMW X5, Toyota Hilux (called Deer) and a Landwind copy of the Opel Fontera 4WD which spectacularly scored zero on EU crash test

And another one is the Shanghai Englon, a shameless knockoff of a RR Phantom. It's made by the Geely Co (geely means 'lucky' in Mandarin) which recently bought Volvo off Ford. The car does have one main difference - instead of a rear seat, is has a single throne.

A fed-up passenger grew tired of waiting for a clock-watching driver to start his shift and drove the bus home herself. Chen Li kept to the number 528's route through Hangzhou, eastern China, picking up and dropping off passengers until she got close to her home where she abandoned the coach. Hapless driver Xiuo Gu was suspended and fined 20 GBP for losing control of his vehicle.

This year a BMW driver in Guangdong province reportedly ran over a two-year-old girl. When the girl's grandmother screamed at the car to stop, the driver paused, hit reverse and ran over the girl's body, and then engaged drive and rolled forward over it a third time.... such episodes are so commonplace nowadays that they have a name: 'double-hit cases'.
Far from being evidence of innate barbarism, they are instead an illustration of the perverse incentives thrown up by the country's dysfunctional legal system, which makes it costlier to maim than to kill. The fines for killing a pedestrian in a traffic accident are typically in the tens of thousands of dollars while the cost of a lifetime of disability care can easily run into the millions.

In China in 2000 there were just four million cars distributed among a population of 1.3 billion. Now, China is the largest auto manufacturer in the world, with more than 280 million vehicles

Cars in Japan

Japanese have a law that you can only buy a car if you can prove you have a parking space, unless the car is less than 3.4m (about 11 feet) long and has an engine less than 660cc. Since nobody has a parking space, the demand for these cars is sky high. Almost everyone has a car that is almost invisible to the naked eye. You don't have people cluttering up the streets circling the block looking for somewhere to park - you just pull over and put it in your pocket.

Cars in India

Tata 'People's Car' in India 30hp engine (in US smallest engine is 109hp Honda Fit) no radio just speedo and fuel gauge - designed to crawl around crowded streets so wheel bearings which can only go to 45mph - sell for $US2500 (the price of DVD player in a Lexus). If sell in US, would have to double price just to meet safety standards, but in India actually makes roads safer because deigned to get the family-on-a-scooter customer into a car

Indian guy buried in his beloved 1958 Morris Minor

Cars in Britain

44% British women admit to judging a man from the car he drove, and half admitted to dumping a boyfriend because car wasn't up to scratch

1920's Britain there were 1m cars on road, but no driving license test. There were more road fatalities than today.

In 2010 twice as many Britons died in accidents in their home as died in car crashes.

Rowan Atkinson has decided to sell for £8 million the supercar he insists is ideal for doing the school run. "You just get in and, because it is so small, comfortable and practical, go and do the school run, or the shopping." The comic actor has crashed it twice, including one prang that resulted in what is thought to have been Britain's biggest insurance bill for a car repair at £910,000.

The McLaren F1 is made of carbon fibre, like the Formula One race cars. It has two passenger seats in the rear of the cockpit. The top speed is an easy 200mph thanks to a huge 6.1-litre, V12 engine pumping out 627 horsepower. The car's value has increased from its original sale price of £540,000 to the £8 million being asked today.

The Reliant Robin: Like the Ford Edsel, its design was bad. It looks like an abstract cartoon rat, and its three-wheel design allowed it to be parked on its side, even while driving.



Cars in Italy

Italy - when police pulled over a zig-zagging car outside Milan, they found a naked 70 year old woman who had been trying to have sex with the driver. When they breath-tested the semi-nude 59 year old they found he was three times the limit. "We assume they had been drinking at lunch and then things got out of control" said the local police chief

Cars in America

Car dealer Walter Moore of Max Motors in Butler, Mo. (an hour south of Kansas City), announced in May a free premium to every car purchaser: either $250 worth of gasoline or a gift certificate for a handgun. He told KMBC-TV that 80 percent of customers choose the gun.

Couple in Boston with matching white limos - she discovered him in back of his with Another Woman - chased him thru city, repeatedly ramming, causing extensive damage to both cars

Shane Peters's cherished 2004 Dodge Durango broke down on the road in Livingston, Tex., in June, but before he could return to tow it, a thief hauled it away. About a month later, Peters spotted the familiar Durango in town and with the help of police got it back--with (courtesy of the thief) a newly-repaired drive shaft and three new wheels (and the thief's drug supply, but police seized that).

Christopher Lemek, Jr., was arrested in Palmer, Mass., in January and charged in a New Year's Eve hit-and-run accident that took a pedestrian's life. Lemek emerged as a suspect a few days after the collision when police, visiting his home, noticed freshly-disturbed earth in his backyard. Eventually Lemek confessed to literally burying the evidence--using a construction vehicle to crush his truck and an excavator to dig up his back yard and drop the truck into it.

In California, there are at least six drivers licenses that are registered under the name Jesus Christ.

The United States walks the least of any industrialized nation. Studies employing pedometers have found that where the average Australian takes 9,695 steps per day (just a few shy of the supposedly ideal "10,000 steps" plateau, itself the product, ironically, of a Japanese pedometer company's campaign in the 1960s), the average Japanese 7,168, and the average Swiss 9,650, the average American manages only 5,117 steps. Where a child in Britain, according to one study, takes 12,000 to 16,000 steps per day, a similar U.S. study found a range between 11,000 and 13,000.

Car wrecks are the number one cause of death for Americans under 35.

The 276 people that received free Pontiac G6 cars on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2004, all had to pay a tax bill of around $6,000 for the free car.

There are more cars than people in Los Angeles.

For some reason, according to a High Point, N.C., TV report, Larry Hall of Randolph County took seven-plus weeks out of his life recently and glued pennies to cover (except for windows and chrome) his 2000 Chevrolet Blazer (a total of 51,300 coins).

It wasn't long after the 'big war' when hot rodders began to seek out the old Cadillac wheel covers for their 1930 through 1950's custom rods. Hubcap Mike explained, 'Probably the most classic Cadillac hubcap was the heavy, brilliantly-chromed 1950 wheel cover, nicknamed the Sombrero because its profile resembled a sombrero hat,' said Mike. 'Cadillac owners soon began to realize that their hubcaps were very much in demand. They would usually figure this out when they would go to get in their car and happen to notice that they no longer had any hubcaps.'

The car that commands the greatest loyalty in America today is (no kidding) Hyundai. In this year's annual survey of car-brand loyalty by JD Power and Associates, a market-research firm in California, 64% of Hyundai owners said they would replace their existing vehicles with another of the same make. Ford, Honda, BMW and Kia were runners up in the loyalty stakes.

Driver Joshua Concepcion-West, 27, was arrested in Apopka, Fla., with an ingenious license-plate cover that he could raise and lower remotely from his key chain (thus avoiding identification by cameras as he passed through turnpike checkpoints). On January 11th at a $1.25 toll plaza, he had neglected to check his rear-view mirror before lowering the cover--and failed to notice that right behind him was a Florida Highway Patrol car with a trooper watching the whole thing.

Cars in Sweden

While other vehicle safety-control engineers work on actually slowing down cars and buses when a risk is detected on the road ahead, one of Volvo's recent innovations appears aimed merely at just bullying pedestrians to get out of the way. According to a September report on Treehugger.com, the safety "control" for a Volvo bus consists of a progressively-louder horn-honking to scare off the pedestrian.

Cars in Movies

For Vanishing Point, Dodge provided 5 1970 Challengers. But the car destroyed at the end of the movie was an engineless Camaro pulled by a chain into the bulldozers.

The most famous Dodge was the General Lee, the star of the 1980's TV show Dukes of Hazzard. Somewhere between 250 and 300 of the 1969 Chargers were written off during the series, and the cars became so hard to come by that RC models were used for some of the stunts.

Cars in Ireland

The boss of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, paid £4000 to equip his luxury MB with taxi license and meter so he could use the car pool lane to get to work (notoriously tight - his staff have to buy their own pens and are not allowed to charge their mobile phs at work)

Cars in Germany

Police have banned a replica of Fred Flintstone's car from German roads. Sebastian Trager, an engineer, used a Volkswagen Polo chassis with a wooden frame and 1.3-litre engine concealed under the front "roller". But police say it's not roadworthy. Trager sighed: "When we got the registration form section about the number of lights, windscreen washers and wipers, well, we don't even have a windscreen, so we gave up."

Speeding Tickets

Finland has variable speed laws - fine based on how much you earn - one of country's wealthiest, 27 year old earning E7million per annum, fined $NZ275,000 for doing 80k in 40k zone

Parking Meters

Switzerland chemist fed up with drivers asking for change for parking meters but didn't want to churlishly turn them away so made them do a song-and-dance routine to amuse customers and staff in exchange for coins

Vehicles in Dubai

A Dubai sheikh has a classic 1948 Dodge Power Wagon which has 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen - it's 40 feet tall. he also has a 120-foot-long, 8 bedroom caravan (the world's biggest) and a 10 bedroom Globe Car - a one-millionth scale model of the Earth, on wheels.

Russia

Wealthy Russians have recently found a way around the country's horrid traffic jams: fake ambulances, outfitted with plush interiors for relaxation while specially trained drivers use unauthorized lights and sirens to maneuver through cluttered streets. London's Daily Telegraph reported in March that "ambulance" companies charge the equivalent of about $200 an hour for these taxis.

Parking Meters

In many city centres it costs more than the minimum wage to park. People working in McDonalds can look out the window and see parking meters earning more than they do

Blind Man Driving

In Urfa, Turkey, in April, pop singer Metin Senturk set the world speed record for an unassisted blind driver (in a Ferrari F430, at about 175 mph), an experience he called "like a dance with death."

Time-sharing luxury and sports cars. One club started by a guy who bought a £110,000 Lamborghini and realized it cost him £30,000 in depreciation, insurance and tires in first year. Typically you pay a joining fee £2500 and annual fee of £12,000 which gives you 750 points - a Bentley or a GT40 uses up 50 points a day

One of all time classic cars - E Type Jaguar, could not be built today because of safety rules

A designer is stopping traffic with a new motorbike in the shape of the Jaguar car logo of a pouncing big cat. It even has the numberplate CAT 1. He's looking for offers of around £320,000, which includes £240,000 for the number plate

The $79,000 (and up) Chevrolet Corvette Z06 has a handy 'Valet Mode' feature, which allows the owner to record video and audio of what a valet does with the car on the way to the parking garage, as well as speed data and other driving information.

The average car in Britain is parked 95% of the time

Just a Test Drive

Guy in Melbourne took a Honda Accord for a test drive (locked door to stop salesman getting in), went home and packed a bag and hit the road. He was picked up deep in the Northern Territories near Tennant Creek when he drove off without paying for petrol. When stopped he was 3700 km from Melbourne but he'd put 6200 km on clock in a week

Drunk Driving

Hummer H2 driver Yvonne Sinclair, 29, was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter Calif., from a 2006 crash that killed two people and in which her intoxication was a major factor. Sinclair had bought the Hummer from proceeds of a lawsuit settlement over the 2003 death of her boyfriend, who was killed by a drunk driver

Fiat 500, 'Bambino' was tiny and underpowered, but post-war Italians loved it because got the family off Vespas. The Abarth 500 was a race-tuned version, but they were famous for over-heating, so drivers would prop open the engine cover with couple of thin bits metal. In one race British driver in Hillman Imp found he was outrun down the straights, but caught up in corners where the Abarths "wobbled like a tart in a tight skirt". The Hillman driver 'accidentally' bumped each Abarth in the Chicane, causing the cover to drop down, and within a couple of laps the Italian pocket rockets dropped out.

Driving Frauds

Rort where people wave a driver from side-street into traffic and then deliberately drive into them (they have right of way) and then make false injury claim against them

Fake disabled badges

Thriving industry both Sydney and London for fake disabled badges (particularly valuable London where can avoid congestion charge) a resthome owner a bank manager and a lawyer all charged using cards of deceased clients

Sat Navs

Thieves breaking into people's cars, scrolling through the SatNav entries to find owner's home then driving there and emptying place safe in knowledge that he won't be back for a while

Small Crime

Eco vigilantes attacking 4WD's - letting down car tyres (no damage so no crime?)

Dumb Man Driving

Driver Bryan Parslow, 19, injured himself and three passengers when he crashed into a tree near Wheatland, N.Y., in May. He was playing "hold your breath" with the others and passed out.

Fuel Fraud

European truckers are smuggling diesel into Britain. Costs about 40p litre less in Europe so easy money for drivers to siphon out extra, particularly if boss has paid for it. And of course the more enterprising have installed extra fuel tanks

Carl Lewis Interview in London Times

Parenting shouldn't be a lifetime job. A couple of years after leaving home, I went back to find that my dad had traded in his Chevy for a two-seater sports car. The message was quite clear: "From now on, it's about your mother and me."

Traffic Jams

Beijing has a 'Dial-a-Driver' program for daytime. If you're stuck in a traffic jam, a kid will pick you up on his motor bike and get you to your office, while his mate sits in the traffic and eventually delivers your car to the office.

Traffic Control

Roundabouts were first invented, almost same time, in both France and US, but actually only work in Britain, Australia and NZ. The French have never got the hang of giving way, so their roundabouts turn into traffic jams; in the US drivers tend to go right over the top of them

Ultimate road safety sign: topless blondes holding up speed limit signs - designed to slow young males, the worst offenders. Unfortunately the whole story turned out to be a spoof org by Danish Road Safety Council

A town in Germany (Bohmte, near Hanover) has scrapped all its traffic lights and road signs in an effort to cut crashes. Idea behind it is that if road users are forced to negotiate right-of-way they will pay more attention to what others are doing and hence cause fewer accidents. The town claims there has not been a single scrape or bump or injured pedestrian in month since introduced.

When police did nothing about motorists speeding outside her home, Lin Chen took matters into her own hands. She devised an unusual traffic calming device - a blow-up sex doll. Since she dressed the doll in bright red underwear and tied it to a tree, motorists have been slowing down to take a look. "There are traffic lights near my house and the cars just shoot through them as fast as they can. It's very dangerous," said Chen, 67, of Ningbo, China. "The police aren't interested, so I bought this doll and tied it to the tree. I thought that drivers would slow down if I could give them something worth looking at." The local police said: "It isn't a method we would use but we can't say it isn't working."

The Peltzman Effect

The Peltzman Effect was nicely summed up in an episode of the TV show CSI: "The safer they make the cars, the more risks the driver is willing to take." It's named after the regulatory economist San Peltzman who first described the effect. It doesn't just apply to driving cars, but to all systems where regulations are put into place designed to improve safety or avert trouble. You're more likely to do crazy tricks on a tightrope if there's a safety net. You're more likely to make risky stock market investments if you have a nest egg that's invested securely.

Many people drive safely regardless of the laws. Most of us would probably wear seatbelts even if it wasn't the law, but do we drive crazier because we have the comfort of knowing the airbag is there? There is always a wilder segment of the population for whom this is indeed the case. When this happens, the overall safety of the system for everyone is actually decreased. When you make it safer to take risks, more people will take them; and then we have to weigh the higher number of accidents against the protection afforded by the safety devices. The Peltzman Effect is real, and together with its corollaries, is quite interesting.

Underneath the town of Broken Hill in Australia is 150km of mining tunnels, controlled by 22 sets of traffic lights. In the town above, there are just 4.

five motoring laws from around the globe that could catch drivers out:

1. In Australia it is illegal to leave keys in an unattended vehicle.

2. In San Salvador, drunk drivers can be punished by death before a firing squad.

3. In Utah, birds have right of way on any public highway.

4. In Thailand, it's illegal to drive a car if you're not wearing a shirt.

5. In Alabama, it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle.

Australia has banned the NZ Hyundai ad which has toddler driving 4WD on grounds that might encourage copying...Specifically in case some stupid parent thought it meant a 2yo could drive. Since no NZ parent ever did so, it implied that they thought Australian parents dumber than kiwis

Melbourne police lent 6 Hummers to use as intimidating night crowd control

Fastest Speeding ticket

Guy in Minnesota riding a Honda RC51 motorcycle clocked at 205mph (by an air-based cop patrol). Previous record was a NY doctor doing 185mph (in a 55mph zone) in a Lamborghini Diablo.

Melbourne Australia gave free public transport while Commonwealth Games on, successfully avoiding major traffic gridlock even though several main arteries closed

LST got hold of kids of celebs and asked about their parents' driving. 14 yo son of Pink Floyd drummer reckoned his mum always criticized father's driving so when she was putting on her makeup he'd drive fast over speed bumps so that her lipstick would wind up in her eyebrows

Car Alarms

NY City banning car alarms (rate as one of top 3 most annoying inventions ever)

Car Parking

Seinfeld episode complaining about shortage of parking spaces in NY: in one episode of his show, called The Parking Space, the character George Costanza vows to find a free parking spot instead of paying for a car park. "It's like going to a prostitute," George explains to his friend Elaine. "Why should I pay when, if I apply myself, maybe I can get it for free?"

Euro Cars In US

If your free time is spent at all like ours, you poke around European eBay sites checking out wonders of the automotive world that will never make it to our shores. Like fresh Guinness, strong coffee and heated towel racks, some creations just can't get across the Atlantic.

You can blame U.S. regulators for that. Mostly. The NHTSA and the EPA tend to be pretty strict about what's safe enough or clean enough to be driven here. Generally speaking, anything that wasn't originally sold in the United States can't be imported if it isn't at least 25 years old. Don't even think about sneaking a car in, as your insurance would be void, and you may end up in jail - which wouldn't be nearly as awful as watching the feds crush your beloved Nissan Skyline.

The question of whether such concerns are legitimate or simply protecting special interests - not to mention whether an increasingly globalized automotive market makes country-specific regulations anticompetitive - is a debate for another time for one reason.

There's a loophole.

OK, it's a loophole that's been around since 1998, when wealthy Porsche 959 owners like Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates made a big enough stink that the feds created a "Show and Display" exemption into import regulations, allowing newer cars to be imported for the sole purpose of displaying historically or technologically important vehicles. These brilliant bits of Teutonic engineering had been impounded by customs agents for close to 10 years when the regulation was passed, and even then they weren't home free. "Show and Display" still only waived NHTSA safety requirements, so the cars still have to be modified to pass EPA regulations because they are newer than 21 years old. When all was said and done, they can be driven no more than 2,500 miles in a calendar year.

To simplify the process, NHTSA released a list of cars eligible for the exemption. Your garden-variety VW Scirocco or Alfa 159 is still banned, but if you have the money to buy any of the cars on the list, you might as well just fly to Europe when you want to get behind the wheel.

Gay Cars

Audi TT inaugural Gay Car of Year

Cars or Sex

A British survey found that more men would rather have a week-end with a Ferrari than with a sexy female celebrity

Cars and Faithfulness

Males 49% Porsche drivers unfaithful; females Audi 41%, BMW 39%

Bentley Envy

(review of Bentley Speed convert) you could feel the contempt flooding at you in hot waves through the windscreen. Some of it was clearly ecological, arising from a notion that the driver of a car such as this must be fundamentally irresponsible. People would shoot narrow-eyed looks of scorn at me, based on the firm suspicion that, beneath the bonnet, I was actually spit-roasting puffins. And what you really want to suggest, in the face of such objections, is that you could ban every Bentley in the world this afternoon, or sooner, and it wouldn't make the faintest difference to the planet's destiny because there simply aren't enough of them, relatively speaking, to matter. They cost £150,000, for heaven's sake! Only Roman Abramovich can afford one. And even he is probably having to take a more cautious view these days. But it's hard to get all that out at a junction, with the traffic building up.

Cuban Cars

The antique Chevy pickup that sailed across the Atlantic from Cuba has been replicated as a homage to the fleeing `truck-o-nauts.' It's not for sale, though. Consider the retrofitted antique a salute to the imagination of the so-called Cuban `truck-o-nauts.' During the summer of 2003, an identical model was ingeniously adapted to float in calm waters. The truck was 'driven' across the Florida Straits all the way from Cuba, hauling 12 Cuban refugees seeking new lives in the United States. Although the group was intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard and the '51 Chevy sunk by the guns of a cutter, the tale of the amphibious pickup circled the world. To the Cuban exile community, it became a symbol of the ingenuity and perseverance of people trying to escape Cuba. The truck on display pays homage to the original.

Flying Cars

The driver unpacks the parafoil wing from the boot and manually deploys it from the rear of the car. He switches the transmission from road mode, which drives the wheels, to flight mode, which powers the rear fan. The fans thrust pushes the car forward, providing lift for the wing as the car reaches 35mph takeoff speed. Once airborne, pedals in the footwell steer the Skycar by pulling cables that change the wings shape. The Skycar has a flying range of about 180 miles. If the wing is damaged or collapses, the pilot can fire a roof-mounted emergency parachute that allows the car to float safely back to earth

Sat Navs

TomTom, the Dutch sat nav firm, has abandoned static cameras and roadside sensors to monitor traffic movements and instead now tracks the speed at which mobile phones in cars travel via GPS and wi-fi. This not only allows the firm to spot traffic jams when they happen, it can also predict them before they happen by calculating how many cars are likely to arrive at a pinch-point at the same time.

Parking Tickets

The New York Times disclosed that about 2,000 obsolete, unfunctioning fire hydrants remain in place in New York City, each dry for almost 20 years, whose only purpose is to allow the city to collect fines from motorists who park too close to them. Supposedly, a contractor will begin removing them soon, but since that costs about $6 million, the project may be delayed.

Studebakers were a German family of metalworkers who migrated to USA in late 1700's. Struggled until one of the boys struck it rich in Californian gold rush of 1848 - not by finding gold, but by selling wheelbarrows to the miners. (He came back with equivalent of $1m). They started making cars 1905 but went into receivership Great Depression, staggered on thru WW2, merged with Packard in 1940's, and produced last car 1963

1901 Willie Vanderbilt imported a Daimler which he used to take across to Long Island on the ferry to drive at great speeds, during which he often hit wandering livestock. Since he always apologised and told the owner to send him the bill, it became a local cottage industry for a while to buy old nags for $6, push them out into the road as Willie came thru, and then claim up to $90 for the 'valuable' beast.

Learning to drive - you start out with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the experience bag before the luck bag is empty

Interesting observation from research into building automated cars - found that at a 4-way intersection, humans don't just obey road rules, they make eye contact with the other driver, evaluate his body language and take into account what sort of vehicle hes driving to decide who has right of way and who is going to yield

Evolution of motorhomes - 1st generation VW Combis; 2nd generation the slugs that clog our roads; 3rd gen stylish and powerful - not uncommon to see 50' $500,000 units in US - Will Smith 75' 200 ton 2 storey artic with own dance floor - $1.8m

Ironic that Winnebago is named after a Native American tribe, one of whose gods is mischievous trickster with a huge unruly phallus that he carries round in a sack

The cost of getting a kid from go karts to Formula 1 (like Lewis Hamilton) is about £4m

German apartment block featured car lifts on front of building - park your car on balcony

Now taken a step further - now you can bring yr car right up to a glassed conservatory off the lounge so that you can admire it - and, if vehicle is particularly worth looking at, an optional extra is a gently revolving turntable so you can admire it from every angle. Sold/justified from security angle - car not left out on street vulnerable to theft and vandalism, but also keeps owner safe from kidnap or assault as transfers from car to home

Problem that hybrid/electric cars too quiet - so just as you can select ring tones for phone, you will be able to choose vroom, vroom sound effects for yr car to warn bystanders

A huge shopping complex near Dartford in Kent has car parks so big that 30 drivers a day forget where they've parked and report cars stolen

Car-and-Caravan demolition derbies reasonably common, but now in States they're having Bus ones too

Focus groups lie to appear responsible - Cadillac found this out to their cost when they believed that people wanted a smaller Caddie. In contrast, Dodge Viper launched without anyone checking to see if the market really wanted a gas guzzler with no door handles, no auto transmission, air con or stereo, and barely room for 2 people and no luggage - they simply let designers build a horny car ("0 to jail in 4 seconds" according to Bob Lutz)

SMH article on commuting - triangle of happiness - greater the distance between where you work shop and live, the gter the unhappiness - mainly the toll on family life - dad gets home from work, too tired to communicate, and takes out frustrations on wife and kids - could downsize, but humans actually quite bad at evaluating choices - we focus more on what we lose than what they gain - so stay in bigger house, with bigger commute, for the bigger salary

Reckon Americans use an extra 4 billion litres petrol because obesity - both vehicles and planes

New Cars

Finally making a scent to make used cars smell new

Pimp My Limo

Couple in Boston with matching white limos - she discovered him in back of his with Another Woman - chased him thru city, repeatedly ramming, causing extensive damage to both cars

Sat Navs Cause Accidents

Sat navs are the second-most common cause of motoring accidents, according to a new study that suggests thousands of drivers are putting their lives at risk every day by punching routes into the devices while on the move. In-car satellite navigation systems were implicated in more accidents than mobile phones and were only second to distractions caused by child passengers in a survey of almost 500 UK motorists.

Car Parts

Throwaway cars - cost so much to repair - high cost of airbag repairs and many components only available as assemblies

Generally, airbags save lives, but apparently not Ronald Smith's. According to a coroner's inquest in Darlington, England, in May, Smith's airbag deployed, but in the process, it was cut open on jagged glass, which forced a rush of the bag's gas and talcum powder (used as a lubricant by many manufacturers) into his lungs, and Smith soon afterward developed fatal bronchial pneumonia from inhaling the substances.

Ferraris

Ferrari sell their ex F1 cars to collectors for £1/2m each. Buyers get staged events using F1 pit crews plus tuition from Michael Schumacher

Ferrari used to produce less than 500 cars a year to cater to the very top level of spenders. Now its over 5000 - there are just so many more people with that sort of disposable income (Bentley Continentals were once for the British aristocracy; now they're for gangsta rappers and football WAGS)

New Zealand has highest number of Ferraris per head of population

There is no greater name in supercars than Ferrari, and no greater modern Ferrari than the Enzo. It was launched in 2002 and just 399 were built, ensuring a level of exclusivity that makes getting hold of one near-impossible. Its exclusivity, allied to its unrivalled pedigree, means that values have surged. Today, a typical Enzo with several thousand miles will sell for about £700,000 - a 55% return on the original £450,000 cost. The annual service averages £3,600. The biggest expense tends to be the clutch, which needs to be replaced every 6,000 miles, at a cost of £4,500.



Speed limits

19mph The limit on roads on a new estate in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire. The developer chose the figure in a deliberate attempt to draw drivers' attention to the signs

10mph World's first speed limit in the 1861 Locomotive Act. It was revised in 1865 to 4mph on open roads and 2mph in town. Cars had to be preceded by a man with a red flag

22mph The limit in Dayton in the late 1970s. The Indiana town bought the signs at a discount as they were leftovers from a production error. The limit was enforced

Oprah Giveaway

Oprah gave away 276 new cars to each member of studio audience - promo by GM to launch new Pontiac - cost $12m but cheap publicity

Speed Cameras

Speed cameras hidden in wheelie bins (South Australia)

Speed camera car - students pinched number plate from the car, stuck it on a similar model, then drove up and down at high speed - computer sent itself 19 infringement notices

In Britain, 14000 speed camera fines written off every year rental cars with overseas drivers

53 year old German woman had her license confiscated because she attacked a speed camera with her Jeep driving over it several times

Can we get more people to obey the speed limit by making it fun to do? The idea here is capture on camera the people who keep to the speed limit. They would have their photos taken and registration numbers recorded and entered into a lottery. Winners would receive cash prizes and be notified by post. Better still, the winning pot would come from the people who were caught speeding.

New York makes around $1m in parking fines on the Friday after Thanksgiving as hungover drivers don't get up early enough to move their cars to other side of street for road sweeping

Arizona driver evading speed camera tickets by wearing a monkey mask ("They can't prove it's me")

British have introduced 'average speed' cameras which read rego plates and calculate whether you must have broken speed limit between the two cameras.

Pickups vs SUVs

Here is the puzzling thing. The apparent cause of death for S.U.V.'s was high gas prices. Doesn't that mean that with low gas prices S.U.V. sales should come back to life? I can think of a few reasons why that might not be the case:

1) Consumers think that the low current gas prices are temporary, and in general gas prices will be high in the future. Thus, they don't want to get stuck with a vehicle that gets poor gas mileage. The question this raises is why consumers were so sure six months ago that gas prices were going to be high forever (which turned out to be wrong), but don't believe now that gas prices will stay low.

2) The uncertainty of fluctuating gas prices takes the fun out of owning an S.U.V. Even if gas prices won't be that high on average, it is so unpleasant to have an S.U.V. when gas prices are high that people don't want to have them if gas prices are volatile. This explanation seems kind of dumb to me, but maybe it is possible.

3) When gas prices got high, it became uncool to own an S.U.V. Perhaps the process for going from cool to uncool is not easily reversible. Once something is uncool, it remains uncool for a long time, even when the forces that caused it to be uncool recede. This might explain why the demand for pickup trucks remains strong, even as S.U.V.'s fade. Somehow the spike in gas prices didn't make pickup trucks uncool in the same way as S.U.V.'s

How to avoid a ticket in London

We've all been there, the moment when a dash to the shops for a bag of sugar ends up costing 60 quid - the dreaded parking ticket. Eight million of them are issued every year, raising an estimated £781 million in fines for the nation's councils, yet researchers at Which? have discovered that nine out of ten tickets are quashed on appeal in Westminster alone. Will contesting a ticket soon make more sense than feeding the meter? If you do go that way, bear these seven points in mind:

Get legal Many tickets are issued incorrectly, so give yours a brisk shake down. Are all the details, such as your vehicle description, exactly correct? If not, the ticket may be unenforceable.
Did the traffic warden make any scribbled crossings out on the ticket? If so, it could be invalid. Ignore it completely.
The cowboys who supervise supermarket, hospital, housing estate and retail park car parks are unregulated, so can charge exactly what they want, but they're also unenforceable. Only tickets issued by authorised wardens and the police are legally valid.
A ticket from a parking enforcement firm is not a fine but a notice of breach of contract; they have no power to force you to pay unless they go to the hassle and expense of taking you to court and winning.
Two wheels If you ride a motorbike, use a rain cover to thwart traffic wardens, who are not allowed to interfere with vehicles. If the cover is locked to the bike they cannot remove it to read the numberplate and are therefore unable to fill out a ticket.
Overpay Been stung with a £60 fine? Generously send the council a cheque for £61, creating so much hassle and paperwork that overworked administrators slip the entire thing in the bin.
Dyslexic Was the parking restriction sign written in a font that discriminated against dyslexic people? Dyslexics find some typography hard to read, particularly when printed on a white background, and one Times reader had her fine quashed when she appealed, saying that she misunderstood the sign due to its font.
Play detective Are the yellow lines badly faded or obscured by leaves? If so, then you could have grounds for appeal.
Also check that the parking restrictions are correctly displayed. There should be posts with signs stating the restrictions placed every 60 metres on single yellow lines - and for pay and display machine these should be no more than 30 metres from your parking bay. Take photos to demonstrate inadequate signage and write to your council explaining the situation. Most will stop the clock, giving a further 14 days to pay at the reduced rate.
Drive away if you see a traffic warden looking lasciviously at your car while scribbling into his notepad, leap in and drive off. Since judges ruled in 2007 that businessman Simeon Ademolake didn't have to pay a £50 fine because the warden hadn't placed the ticket on his car before he drove off, the rest of us now have legal sanction to do the same.

Homer Simpson

"Here are your messages: 'You have thirty minutes to move your car.' 'You have ten minutes to move your car.' 'Your car has been impounded.' 'Your car has been crushed into a cube.' 'You have thirty minutes to move your cube.'"



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