Thursday, December 30, 2010

Vehicle Trends of 2010 / Happy New Years

It's been a tough year in the auto industry, with companies being pushed to their limits to produce competition-worthy vehicles in order to stay afloat. In the midst of many recalls (undoubtedly from pushing products out the door too quickly) we have seen numerous changes in the ways companies are designing their vehicles - some great, and others questionable in my opinion...

Fuel Economy
Even though companies have always been aiming to produce fuel efficient cars, never has it been more important than this past year. With the state of the global economy, fuel economy was essentially the largest purchasing factor for most consumers who were overlooking the usual "fun" aspects in favor of saving on petrol. Vehicles like the Ford Fiesta, Chevy Cruze Eco and the Hyundai Elantra all have astonishing fuel economy, somewhere in the 40mg range, without having batteries or other nonsense.

More American Cars Getting Turbos
Ford grabbed 2010 by the balls by introducing its lineup of vehicles equipped with "ecoboost" engines. Now sure, other companies have been combining direct injection with forced induction for a long time now, but it's a new concept on American cars. 

Korean Manufacturers Moving Up
If you think you've seen more Kia's and Hyundai's on the street this past year, it's because you have! It seems like they have finally made a big name for themselves with models like the Kia Optema, Hyundai Genesis, Hyundai Sonata, etc. North Americans aren't afraid to have a Korean car in their driveways.

LED Headlights
I'm undecided on whether or not I like this trend. On one hand, I think it looks amazing on the Audi's, but they're bright as hell when you're in oncoming traffic - almost unnaturally bright.  What do you guys think?

I might not post tomorrow or Saturday so I'd like to wish everyone a happy new year, and remember to hang up the keys so you don't get anally violated by the police officer who pulls you over and gives you a DUI. They're everywhere this year. 

So have fun whether you're spending an evening with the Mrs...


Or whether you're out partying with your friends...


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Alternative Transportation: The Motorized Bicycle

Driving vehicles is not practical for everyone, either due to lack of money, age, or personal preference. This why I like to feature other methods of transportation occasionally. As the title of this post suggests, I am featuring a little-known modification that can be made to the everyday bicycle. The motorized bicycle used to be my primary mode of transport when I couldn't afford to drive, or when I was drunk, and it comes with my highest recommendation.

The concept is incredibly simple, because it's basically as easy as putting a motor on a bicycle! There are numerous kits available online, and with some simple tools you can have a fully functioning bike in about a day. It took me a few days, because that was back when I smoked a lot of weed.

You can still pedal the bike when you engage the clutch because the engine drives a separate drive train. You start the engine by riding the bike up to about 10km/h and then disengage the clutch, which  jump-starts the motor. The throttle and clutch lever are mounted on the handlebars, so it's very easy to control your speed, which can reach 50km/h on a good bike.

Is it legal? It depends on your municipality, but in mine it is perfectly legal because the law considers it pedal assist. If it only moved under the engine's power, then it might be classified differently. Before mine was stolen, I rode it past police officers a few times with very little reaction from them. They were basically like "what the fuck is that?". If you've ever been to a third-world country, you'll see these on the streets often.

If you're looking for extreme fuel efficiency, nearly negligible repair costs, and to possibly even turn a few heads, the motorized bicycle might be for you. I picked my kit up for $179.00 three years ago, and they're still approximately the same price. Sticking an 80cc engine on a bicycle won't get you laid though; ask me how I know.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Toyota Ordered To Pay $32,000,000

As part of a series of continuous updates regarding Toyota's reputation in the auto industry, I found it necessary to point out their most recent indiscretion.

Relating to two U.S. safety probes over Toyota's handling of numerous vehicle recalls, Toyota agreed to pay the maximum fine of 32 million dollars which in my opinion appropriately represents the nearly 11 million vehicles that needed to be recently recalled.
A useful feature on Toyotas, in case the accelerator sticks
I could re-post all of the recalls for which Toyota was accountable, but I've already picked fun at them enough I think.

Keep in mind, this is not a cumulative fine for all of Toyota's safety violations - it is just for the safety probes. I was unable to find an accurate "all-in" figure for the fines Toyota has had to pay this year, or I would have posted that too.

I believe the probe fines are sufficient, and the fact that they cooperated in paying the maximum fine demonstrates one of two things - either they just want to win back their public image, or they had lots of pressure from weeping investors. Or perhaps both? What do you guys think?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Police Can't Trash Talk If They Want To Make Busts

I read a newspaper article today that nicely demonstrates how police incompetence can assist criminals, and thought I'd share it:

VANCOUVER — A B.C. judge has thrown out the evidence against an Asian man stopped with 57 marijuana plants in his trunk after ruling he had been a victim of racial profiling.

Ruh Roh.

Zai Chong Huang was pulled over in January 2009 as he travelled along a road in 100 Mile House, B.C., about 430 kilometres northeast of Vancouver. A search of his truck turned up the potted plants, a timer, a bottle of liquid fertilizer and 150 empty plant pots, and Huang was charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

The officer, identified in court documents only as Const. Berze, said he'd pulled Huang over for swerving twice in his own lane. However, after reviewing circumstantial evidence, Provincial Court Judge Elizabeth Bayliff decided Berze did so only because of his own prejudice against Asian people.

The most damning evidence came in an interview between Berze and Huang on the night of the incident.

"You must be guilty as shit," Berze is quoted as saying in an interview transcript. "You're probably a gang member, aren't you? An Asian gang from Surrey, right? Well you're not saying anything so it must be true . . . . If I were the Canadian government I'd kick your ass right out of Canada is what I'd do.

"You come into my country and you start trafficking dope around. That's bullshit. My wife and kids live here in 100 Mile House, and pieces of shit like you are gonna come in. And if they are trafficking drugs in my hometown, I do not like it at all."

Huang, whose first language is Cantonese, only gave short replies indicating he did not understand.

Bayliff called the outburst a display of Berze's own anger.

"(Berze) demonstrates that he is personally very angry at a particular group of people of Asian extraction — those who are associated with organized crime, particularly the production and trafficking of marijuana and other drugs," she said. "He demonstrates enmity to that group of people. Further, he assumes that Mr. Huang is part of that group."

Around the same time Berze pulled Huang over, Berze's colleague, Const. Manseau, stopped another Asian man, whose vehicle also contained marijuana plants, a few kilometres behind. That man turned out to be Huang's twin brother, Zai Qing.

Manseau said he, too, pulled the man over for swerving in his lane. Bayliff noted the coincidence might not mean anything on its own, but "it is the whole of the evidence and all of the circumstances that must be considered."

She went on to say she found it "more probable than not" that Berze saw Huang, and perhaps his brother, at a gas station earlier on and followed Huang's vehicle, looking for a reason to pull it over.

Bayliff concluded by saying the principle issue is that it is a fundamental liberty for people to be able to move about the country freely without improper police interference.

"In my view, when I balance the public interest in seeing this prosecution proceed against the charter value at issue, I conclude that to admit evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute."

Article sourced from globaltvbc.com

The moral of this story? Apparently you shouldn't attempt to relocate grow-op supplies if you're Asian because you have a higher chance of getting plled over.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hey BMW, Get Out Of My Head!

Remember when you were a kid and you would look at a light source, then close your eyes? Yeah, me too. You would be able to see the shape of that light for a few seconds after wards, and it would seem cool. Well, as my post title suggests, BMW has decided to try and capitalize on this concept in one of their advertising campaigns. Now it's quite obvious that they're just doing this to spark intrigue and conversation, and probably aren't trying to engrave their brand into people's minds, but it's fun to ignorantly accuse them of doing so for the sake of my post.

For those who didn't take Science 10 in high school, the concept works by photoreceptor cells in your retinas losing sensitivity after being overstimulated -- so if you flash 'em and then close your eyes (or look at any blank surface, like a wall or piece of paper), the cells corresponding to the flashed image will send out weak signals to your brain in comparison to the unflashed cells, which signal normally. Result? A reverse-color "cutout" of the letters B-M-W hovering in your visual field.

This post would be utterly pointless without a video, so here you go:

 

In summary, I tip my hat to BMW for thinking outside the proverbial "advertising box" in which most companies find themselves restricted. There doesn't really seem to be too many major breakthroughs in advertising these days. However, seeing the letters B.M.W engraved in my retinas for two seconds isn't going to make me shell out $40,000 for a 3-series if I didn't already want one. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chrystler 300 Series Finally Gets A New Look

Some people have referred to Chrysler's 300 series as the "poor man's Bentley" by its styling and attempt at upscale luxury, but I've always found the exterior of this sedan very bland and slightly distasteful. Perhaps it's because my tastes are more European that I have this opinion, but nonetheless I was very pleased when I set my eyes upon the upcoming 2011 model.

They got rid of the "box" look that I heavily detested, and made the curves more refined. The goal of this updated model was elegance, and in my opinion they seemed to have successfully pulled it off. I have never been a Chrysler fan and nor am I now, but I have to give credit where credit is due.
Chrysler didn't stop at re-doing the exterior; they also made significant improvements to the car's interior including real wood on the instrument panel, doors, center console and steering wheel.

I still wouldn't buy one; I just wanted to help the 300 show off its new look. What do you guys think?

Also, since Christmas is coming up, I thought I'd post some seasonal pictures to help everyone get in the holiday spirit......

The REAL fucking last supper.
Jebus died for your sins, you know.
Kids fucking love this guy

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is The Nürburgring In Danger?

I read an article on Jalopnik (see article) which expresses concern over the financial despair of Nürburgring. Apparently the track was in public ownership up until a few years ago, but the two guys that were recently hired to upgrade the grounds are in WAY over their heads.The upgrade includes a roller coaster, a hotel that is too large, and a shopping mall that remains empty most of the time.


To complete the project, they apparently falsely claimed that they had private financiers who would be investing.  Also, wikileaks apparently blew the lid off the claim that the Nürburgring attracted more than two-million spectators/visitors per year. The actual statistics were less than half.

I'm a little skeptical of some of the info in the article, because I don't understand how the Nürburgring could be in need of money with all the manufacturers who rent it out, and the government grants that it receives. However, this information is apparently privileged and to prove their intentions of secrecy, Nürburgring lawyers sent a warning letter to Wilhelm Hahne (and also had his house searched) after he released some of this information. For those who don't know who Wilhelm Hahne is, he races the track frequently.

It would be horrible if the financial burden comes down on the pockets of the enthusiasts. I wish to visit the Nürburgring some day without having to sell both of my testicles. Have any of you ever been?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cyclists Throwing Magnets

I saw an article on Gizmodo about a magnet that a cyclists are supposed to throw on your vehicle if they think you`re a bad driver. The concept is pretty straightforward - the cyclist prints a few of these and attach a magnet strip to each, then throw them at vehicles. Personally, I'm against this idea for numerous reasons.

I'll start by saying that I have no problem with cyclists, but I think there needs to be greater enforcement of traffic rules for them. Helmet laws are rarely enforced, and when is the last time you've seen an officer pull over someone riding a bike on the sidewalk? Since the number of cyclists has increased substantially along with fuel costs and unemployment, there needs to be more strict rules and regulations by police, in my opinion.

Another cyclist without a helmet

Too often, I'll see cyclists taking up a lot of room on the streets, and making it very awkward for drivers to be on the road with them. If someone actually threw one of these on my car, I would be pissed off. They claim it does no damage to the paint, but they are incorrect.  If there is dirt on the back of the magnet, or on the vehicle, the magnet will cause little scratches. I would buy a bunch of cheap bike locks, follow the person who threw this at my car, and lock their bike up when they're not looking.

What would you do?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

North American Car And Truck Of The Year (Contenders)

Of the cars being considered for the North American 2011 "Car of the Year" and "Truck of the Year" awards, General Motors and Nissan are both dominating in the car department with the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, respectively. For those unfamiliar with these cars, I have written articles on both - see The Chevy Volt and The Nissan Leaf. In the truck department, it's Dodge with their Durango, Ford with their Explorer and the Jeep Grand Cherokee
First of all, how are these awards decided? The judges are automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites. To qualify for an award, the vehicle must be all new or substantially changed. Twenty-seven new cars were eligible for the award, and I've posted the list below for the car and truck finalists.


North American Car of the Year Finalists:
Audi A8
Buick Regal
Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet Volt
Ford Fiesta
Hyundai Sonata/2.0T/Hybrid
Infiniti M37/56
Jaguar XJ
Kia Optima
Mazda Mazda2
Nissan Juke
Nissan Leaf
Volkswagen Jetta
Volvo S60

North American Truck of the Year Finalists:
Dodge Durango
Ford Edge
Ford Explorer
Honda Odyssey
Hyundai Tucson
Infiniti QX56
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Kia Sorento
Kia Sportage
Lincoln MKX
Mercedes-Benz R-Class
Porsche Cayenne
Toyota Sienna
Volkswagen Touareg

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Golf R - How Will It Compare To The WRX?

It depends on who you ask. Although these two vehicles may appear similar on paper, the short answer is that the Golf R falls short of the WRX on many statistical levels but is still very appealing for many drivers, myself included.

Volkswagen never claimed that the Golf R was going to be in direct comparison with the WRX, but many Volkswagen owners and/or enthusiasts such as myself secretly hoped that it would be.


To put some numbers down, the Golf R is outputting 256 horsepower, wheres the WRX is pushing 265. Both have all wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox and a turbo-charged four-cylinder engine. The Golf, however, weighs approximately 100 pounds more than the WRX which isn't a huge deal for most people. I could go on about stats, but I'd like to touch on other aspects.

When comparing these cars, it is important to note the types of drivers who will be purchasing each. I don't like generalizing, but Subaru drivers generally tend to be younger, have an interest in rallying, and enjoy having a flashy car with a "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am" boxer engine. They seem to enjoy invoking envy in other drivers, which I would too if I had a WRX. The types of drivers who are likely to purchase a Golf R will enjoy the ownership of a "sleeper". They enjoy the finer European details that have been incorporated into the interior and exterior of the Golf R, which is based off the GTI. The notoriety of this car is far less than the WRX. They probably won't be purchasing this car to show off, and probably don't want people gawking at their car anyway. Because it's a sleeper, people will be surprised when it launches off the line or hauls ass in the snow.



Personally, the aspect of a sleeper has always been very appealing to me. I almost bought an old Ford Taurus SHO for this exact reason. If given the opportunity, assuming that cost is irrelevant (even though the Golf R is cheaper) I would purchase a Golf R in a heartbeat upon it's release. Don't get me wrong, I find Subaru's turbo-charged boxer engine to be orgasmic when I hear one driving by, but it's too "show-offy" for me as a daily driver, especially because my taste is very European. If I was looking for a weekend car only, then the WRX would be more appealing.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Can Toyota's Reputation Recover?

Even those who don't keep up with the auto industry know that Toyota's reputation has suffered drastically from various safety issues. Most famously, the "stuck accelerator" issue caused world-wide notoriety and was the subject of ridicule and concern. The big question is, can this automaker ever recover from its slump?


Just to demonstrate how tarnished Toyota's reputation has become recently, I'll cite J.D. Power’s 2010 Avoider Study which found that 19 percent of new car shoppers surveyed steered clear of Toyota showrooms because they thought the automaker had “bad reputation.” 

Toyota has always prided itself on being a manufacturer of safe vehicles with superb reliability, but with so many marks against itself in these areas, consumers seem to be putting their money elsewhere. Domestic sales have risen, and projections indicate they will continue to do so. 

Question for my readers: if you had $30,000 to purchase a brand new vehicle, what would you choose and why?

Update:  My favorite answer thus far is Sucio's.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fast and Furious Five

Recently released was the trailer for the fifth installment of the Fast and Furious films (see below). Most people will be familiar with the basic plot - the crew has to complete "one last job" before they're free - but there is a new addition to the cast: Dwayne Johnson, better known as The Rock. A picture says a thousand words, and a video says even more, so here's some pictures from the trailer, and the video itself.....

 



A funny thing I've noticed is that people either love or hate these movies, there doesn't seem to be a happy medium. I'll admit the acting is usually pretty cheesy, but it's all about the cars. Speaking of which, an E39 5-series BMW, Ford GT, various Porsche's, an old VW bus, and a Mongoose Motorsport's Corvette Grand Sport Roadster all make appearances. I still haven't decided whether or not I'll spend money to see this in theaters. What about you guys?
Video / Images source: moviefone

Monday, December 13, 2010

Is Your Car Leak-Proof?

If you've got an older vehicle like I do, keeping your interior dry can be a challenge. Even newer vehicles are often plagued by leaks, but luckily it's not too hard to find these leaks and fix them. I've compiled a list of some obvious, and not-so-obvious reasons your car is filling up with water, and what to do about it.

Check your rain channels!
You have rain channels in your trunk, under your hood, and if you have a sunroof, check those too. Try cleaning these channels out, because they can easily get clogged with leaves or other debris that cause leaks. The easiest way is to take a non-abrasive brush and get your rain channels clean.

Check your vapor barriers / weather stripping
Check the bottom of your doors to see if there is excessive moisture. If there is, you probably need to replace the plastic seal in your door. Unscrew the screws holding the door card in, and inspect the seal. If there is any imperfections, remove it and replace with heavy-duty poly. Check the weather stripping for the door to make sure it's not cracked or too eroded.

Check your tail lights
 Depending on your vehicle, your tail lights may actually be allowing water to seep into your trunk. This is especially true for after-market tail-lights. A good way to check this is to put paper towel behind your lights, and check the paper towel after it rains to see if moisture is getting through. If it is, buy some sealant and re-do the lights. 

Check your windshield
Sometimes the windshield seal can go bad due to erosion. This occurs mostly on older vehicles, but you should take it to an auto-glass specialist for a cheap and easy fix.

Make sure these problems don't go unattended, because moisture causes mold! Ask me how I know.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Proof that Religion Can Kill Your Family

*not auto related

Okay, I'll admit that the title of this post was a bit of an attention grabber, but surprisingly it's not too largely exaggerated...

I read in the newspaper yesterday that a Philadelphia couple was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The reason for this? In 2009, their two year-old son was sick with pneumonia, and instead of taking him to a hospital for life-saving medical attention, they sat on their asses and prayed for him.



They told a social worker that they were believers in "faith healing" and chose not to use conventional medicine for their sick child.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible are now facing possible 5-10 year maximum sentences depending on their sentencing early next year.

The part of the article that really made me shake my head was that they have SIX other children. Not only that, but according to an interview with Herbert's uncle, the couple's faith in God is still intact.

With today's knowledge, how can this happen? To put the icing on the proverbial cake, Herbert is a school teacher. I could go off on a massive rant about religion, responsibility and common sense, but I won't.  Instead, I want to hear your opinions on why situations like this can still occur in a modern society.

You're going to rely on this goof to heal your child?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reintroducing the Honda NSX?

There are a few rumors circulating about a new version of Honda's NSX, possibly with a 400 horsepower V-6 engine and Honda's SH-AWD system. There isn't a hefty amount of information about the specifications of their new sports car, so we're unfortunately left with our imagination and a puddle of drool at our feet...

MotorTrend released the following picture, so I'm considering it to be a likely accurate photo (compared to others I've seen)


Overall, I think they stayed true to the classic design. Personally though, I need to see a car from like 20 angles (or preferably in person) before making a definitive judgment call. Hopefully we'll see this on the road soon!

Just for reference, here's the previous model (first generation)


So, anyone else like it, or is it just me?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Alternative Transportation - The Monowheel

Yet another mode of transportation that never quite caught on, the monowheel is generally built for entertainment or recreation purposes, but was used as serious transportation in the early 1900's. You can get one with a motor (see video below), or you can go the old fashion route and pedal it! Either way, people are going to think you're a nut-case for riding one of these - but for some reason, I sort of want one...

 

Mechanically speaking, the monowheel is a one-wheeled (obviously), single-track vehicle. Unlike a unicycle, the person driving will sit inside the wheel as opposed to on top. The wheel itself is a rim, commonly driven by smaller wheels pressing against the inside of the rim.


Now, there are some very good reasons why you don't see people riding these. I've compiled a list of questions that someone should ask themselves before purchasing one of these:

1. First of all, how do you steer? Being a single-track vehicle, you can lean, but that makes your turning radius very low. Another option for steering is to provide friction on either side of the vehicle, but that will inevitably slow the vehicle down making it less efficient than it already is. Lack of steering = FAIL.

2. With so many other methods of transportation available, why would you choose something so stupid and impractical? You can purchase a bike, a skateboard, a long-board (which is my preference, second to driving of course), a scooter, and the list goes on. 

3. Do you hate your tail bone? If not, the monocycle may not be for you. Even with suspension and a padded seat, if you're taking a long ride with this thing, you're bound to do some damage down there.

4. Is gravity your friend? Unfortunately not. It is the only thing keeping you at the bottom of the ring, so if you brake too hard, the force could overcome gravity and a "hamster" effect can occur which spirals you around the ring...like a hamster on its wheel!


A close-up of the drive-chain for the self-powered monocycle:
Only one gear on this model
As you can see, balancing can be a slight issue

A video of a monocycle powered by a V8 engine!  Just a tip, skip to 3:00 because it doesn't end well:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Justice - er... sort of

*not auto related

I was pleased to read in my local newspaper today that a police officer may actually be charged for a crime he committed! In Vancouver, British Columbia (near my hometown), a police officer pushed a disabled woman to the ground in June of last year. He and the two officers he was walking with just walked away, and didn't help her. (see video; the victim is wearing red)


After a three month investigation, the crown counsel approved an assault charge. I have to say that I'm impressed, because I thought the charge would not be approved. Even though it's clearly obvious that the officer assaulted the woman, he was claiming she posed a threat by walking to his side, and put herself in a place where she could grab his gun (which is bullsh*t of course).

Too many situations like this go unchallenged, and it's lucky that there was video footage to aid the legal process. Now let's hope the charge sticks!

Since most of my viewers won't be familiar with this particular incident, I'm interested on hearing some opinions regarding police being held accountable for their actions.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Parking Assist Systems

Developed in 2004 by Toyota, the Intelligent Parking Assist System (known as IPAS in the industry) was designed to assist drivers in parking their vehicles. The reason I wanted to post about this technology today is because I thought it would never be commercially successful, but it seems like many manufacturers are now using similar systems in their vehicles. For a couple of reasons, I'm concerned over this being so widely implemented.


The concept was first implemented on the Lexus LS, and was composed of cameras and sensors connected to on board computer processors. The driver can use the computer screen to show the vehicle where to park itself, and the sensors are supposed to stop the vehicle if it comes close to hitting a vehicle or another object.

Many other companies are marketing this technology under different names, but with nearly an identical concept. One reason why I was skeptical of this technology is because of what happens if there is an accident. For instance, say a sensor isn't working properly and does not detect another vehicle while in the process of self-parking. Say there is a small bumper-to-bumper accident resulting from this broken sensor. Who is at fault? Does the driver assume responsibility under their insurance, or does the manufacturer get involved?

I have been unable to find definitive information about where the liability lays if there is an accident resulting from the system failing. If anyone knows, please inform me!


The second reason why this technology concerns me is the lack of driving skills that are required to operate a vehicle. If you can't parallel park, or even pull into a parking stall, you shouldn't be driving. This technology is reducing the skill level necessary to drive a car, which is NOT a good thing. Over time, as driving becomes more automated, people's reaction time will inevitably decrease, and in my opinion this is setting a horrible precedent.

This post turned out to be more of a rant than an informative post, but I'm interested to hear thoughts and opinions on this subject.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Best Driving Roads - Part 2

In continuation of my last post, I'm taking the opportunity to showcase some of North America's best driving roads. Only one I've had the pleasure of driving myself, and others are simply on my to-do list.

My criteria for an awesome road starts off with the mandatory nice scenery, combined with at least a few areas where I can mash the throttle, and last but not least, a few breath-taking turns where I can really feel gravity at work. Obviously there are tons of impressive roads on this continent, but I can't write about them all, so if anyone wants to chip in and recommend a road, feel free to do so!

 Sea to Sky Highway (British Columbia)


I'll start off with a personal favourite - the Sea to Sky Highway in British Columbia, Canada. I live here, so I've driven it many times. The landscape is breathtaking, but it's a highway so it doesn't require much driving skill. It's just the type of road that would be perfect for a relaxing Sunday drive. The route itself is from Vancouver to Whistler

Blue Ridge Parkway (NC to TN)
This is another road that is renowned more-so for its scenery, but due to the length of this road, it has many features. I have never personally driven it, but it's reported to not be very heavily policed. There are also many opportunities to pull over and appreciate the scenery. With that being said, it also has hairpins, dips and rises, and plenty of room to open up the throttle! This route is also considered to be one of the "Top Scenic Byways" in America. 
 
Tail of the Dragon (NC)

According to its website, the road is 11 miles long, has 318 curves, and is widely considered America's number one motorcycle and sports car road. It's kinda difficult to explain this one, but there's lots of good YouTube videos like the one below.

 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Best Driving Roads - Part 1

Some people day-dream about video games, food, drugs etc. - but if you're like me, you day-dream about being out for an awesome drive, on a world-renowned driving road!

I was thinking today about where I'd most enjoy driving. If I had the choice to take my vehicle anywhere in the world, assuming licensing is irrelevant, where would I go? I was immediately reminded of Top Gear's quest to find the best driving road(s) in the world, and thought I'd showcase their findings as today's post!

The Top Gear cast primarily focused their search around continental Europe, so I'm going to consider this "Part 1" of a series of "Best Driving Road" posts that I'll be doing. Enjoy!

Col de Turini
 The highest point of this mountain is 1607 meters! This, combined with 34 hairpins and awesome views makes for a difficult and dangerous (yet very exciting) drive. It is viewed as one of the best driving roads in the world, but I think I'll pass on this one.


San Bernardino Pass
The name of this pass should be recognized automatically by driving enthusiasts. It's a high mountain pass with an elevation of over 2000 meters, if I remember correctly. In addition to its bends and hairpins, it is mainly recognized for its amazing scenic views. I personally would do whatever it takes to be able to drive through this pass! Oh, and there's also a 6.6km tunnel somewhere along it. 


 Davos to Stelvio (via Bormio)
As the name suggests, this route heads south from Davos, Switzerland to Stelvio, Italy. I almost wish I believed in an afterlife so I could make this my personal heaven (lol). It's comprised of miles upon miles of open road, with elements to test every aspect of your vehicle's performance. Pure driving bliss! I think this is the road which I would personally enjoy driving the most.


 Stelvio Pass
Just taking a look at this picture makes my pulse race and my hand making down-shifting motions instinctively! It is widely regarded as one of the most difficult and challenging roads in the entire world, and with 60 hairpins, it's easy for me to see why! I think I'd have to work up to this one.

Next, I'll be posting roads from North America since that's where most of my viewers are from anyways. Cheers! images from redlineblog.com

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Miniature Volkswagen

Yes, it's another Volkswagen post. But this time, you can't drive it unless you're shorter that 5 feet in height!


Even though the technology exists for vertically-challenged people to drive ordinary vehicles, Volkswagen's Brazilian division has developed a miniature version of one of their hatchbacks. They call it the "Mini Gol".

It's just a prototype of course, but it's an exact replica of its big brother. It's powered by a 5.5hp engine, and only two of these vehicles are currently in existence. One is used for shows, and the other is owned privately.


There is no information available as to whether this vehicle will ever be mass produced, but I personally don't think it should be. Obviously I don't have anything against little people, I'm just concerned that the size of this vehicle may cause accidents due to lack of visibility, or confusion on the behalf of other drivers. Plus my understanding is that it has a very limited top speed. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The World's Most Fuel Efficient Car: A Volkswagen?

What do you get when you combine global warming with the fact that fossil fuels are getting ridiculously expensive? You get automakers scrambling to create a new era of the automobile, with surprising results!

New automobiles are being designed in ways that challenge every pre-existing notion we have about how vehicles should look and perform. Some manufacturers are using alternative fuel sources such as electricity (i.e. the Nissan Leaf which I have featured on my blog a couple of times) and some are simply figuring out a way to burn substantially less fuel without converting energy sources, which is a route that Volkswagen is taking with their "L1 Concept".


You might be thinking to yourself, "I wouldn't drive that ugly piece of crap!" but I urge you to look at the vehicle's practicality instead of its design.

Specifically this: This vehicle uses only ONE LITRE OF FUEL per 100km!! (285mpg!!)

How are they able to achieve this? Every piece of this automobile is designed for aerodynamics. This is why the vehicle's shell resembles a bullet, and why it only weighs 640lbs. The vehicle is much thinner than the average car because the passenger actually sits behind the driver (see picture below)


The rear of the vehicle may appear similar to the Honda Insight, and indeed it is! Since the rear wheels are not used for turning, there is no reason for them to be exposed. By covering them up, a significant amount of wind residence is reduced. Also, the air intake only opens when the vehicle needs to be cooled down.

This concept is a fantastic representation of the belief that you can make an extremely fuel-efficient vehicle without advancing too far into new technology. The big question - will we ever see this on the road? It has not been officially determined, but only time will tell, I suppose. 

images from gas2.org

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vehicle Graveyards

Hopefully most of you guys have seen the show "Life After People," which is a show that airs on the History Channel. For those of who haven't seen it, it depicts how the changes we have made to our Earth would slowly be reversed if every human on Earth suddenly disappeared. I recommend checking it out!

Among the major changes, I enjoyed seeing the renditions of old vehicles reverting back to nature at a very slow pace - it's very surreal! Cars have been around for basically a century now, so those that have been abandoned have long since began their tedious journey of erosion. Is it just me, or are car graveyards more haunting than real ones?


Sadly, you won't see any hippies tripping out in this van anymore

Someone should haul it out and make a hot rod!

He knows what he's talking about.

They don't make cars like they used to.

Very artistic photograph. I'd like to do a photo shoot of this car



this metal will take a long time to deteriorate



It's strange to see cars in this good of condition.. usually people rummage for parts

This would be creepy at night

A lonely engine deteriorates

Looks like a tree has decided to grow through this one

parking lot full? nowhere to park your beetle? just put it on top of that rotting pedo-van.

Beautiful, just beautiful.

I've run out of witty captions. F*ck off.

images from 2leep.com