Archives For July 2012

A 1957 Mercedes 300SL, similar to one saved by the business owner.
Credit: Wikipedia

This story is one to make a car lover keel over.

A massive mill fire in Charlton, Mass., last week destroyed 17 classic cars — a whopping $2 million in rare vehicles. The five-alarm fire actually ravaged six businesses including Werke Classic Coach, which housed the vintage cars.

OK, take a deep breath.

Werke Classic Coach owner Gary Cove told the Boston Globe that the 17 classic cars he lost on that dreadful night included:

  • a $750,000 Mercedes
  • several Porsche 356s and 911s
  • two Jaguar E-Types aaaaaaand
  • a 1933 Rolls Royce

Before you fall over weeping with grief, the businessman DID save several classic vehicles including: an Alfa Romeo Giulia SS worth $165,00; an $800,000 1957 Mercedes 300SL; a $700,000 1964 Shelby Cobra.

Cove has owned Werke Classic Coach for 38 years, 22 of which were spent at Old Woolen Mill, making him the mill’s longest running tenant.

Did an Illegal Chop Shop Cause the Blaze?

The web site Jalopnik.com has learned some exclusive details about the blaze.

A friend of Cove, Nick Schiappa, told the site that several tenants in the complex repeatedly reported to local officials that immigrants from Ghana had been operating an illegal chop shop there.

Schiappa told Jalopnik that Cove “and his dad and a couple of other people in the complex made numerous calls to the Fire Department because these dudes from Ghana were cutting gas tanks out with torches.”

As if that report wasn’t bad enough, Cove also said that he actually would have saved more of the cars if the town of Charlton had more fire hydrants.

If you can still stomach it, check out the before and after photo of two of the Porches that Jalopnik got their hands on.

Handout photo from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.

People seem to have very mixed feelings on all of this talk about driverless cars — some are very reluctant to give up the wheel and others are genuinely excited to hand the reigns over to a robot.

However, there’s one major obstacle that will keep these robot-driven cars from achieving their true potential.

The horrendous current state of U.S. roads!

A recent piece in The Wall Street Journal discusses how badly U.S. highways need to be revamped to accommodate driverless or “autonomous” cars:

The driverless car represents one of the most amazing breakthroughs in safety and quality of life in recent history. Instead of focusing on enormously expensive high-speed rail as our transportation future, the government would do well to stop hindering driverless cars by its obsolete thinking about our nation’s roads.

It seems like a no-brainer, you can imagine that with an innovation such as this, the auto manufacturers would be ready WAY before state highway departments.

The article, written by Brookings Institution scholar Clifford Winston, says that car manufacturers “have made one technological improvement after another since the car was introduced to consumers more than a century ago” — but the roads, streets and highways are another story completely.

“Unfortunately, the paved systems on which cars travel have not advanced much in comparison,” Winston writes. “Without reimagining the way we design and maintain highways, the driverless car will achieve little of its potential.”

Uh oh!

Researchers project that getting the robot-driven cars out on the roads will dramatically decrease car accidents caused by human error. The vehicles sweep up info on nearby cars from short-range transmitters at a rate of 10 times per second — which helps them react much more rapidly than human drivers.

If upgrades were tackled competently and with urgency (a big if), the new tech could revolutionize U.S. roads and highways. Winston says:

Driverless cars don’t need the same wide lanes, which would allow highway authorities to reconfigure roads to allow travel speeds to be raised during peak travel periods. All that is needed would be illuminated lane dividers that can increase the number of lanes available. Driverless cars could take advantage of the extra lane capacity to reduce congestion and delays. …

The smaller volume of trucks could be handled with one or two wide lanes with a road surface about a foot thick, to withstand trucks’ weight and axle pressure. But the much larger volume of cars — which apply much less axle pressure that damages pavement — need more and narrower lanes that are only a few inches thick. Building highways that separate cars and trucks by directing them to lanes with the appropriate thickness would save taxpayers a bundle.

Well, let’s face it, saving taxpayers “a bundle” has never been one of the U.S. government’s defining attributes …

See Also: Opinion: Paving The Way for Driverless Cars

See Also: Forget Driverless Cars … Flying With a Robot Pilot?

See Also: Seriously … When Police Pull Over a Driverless Car, Who Gets the Ticket?

See Also: 2017? 2020??? Lots of Dates … When Will We Have Driverless Cars?

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.

Boy that roller man is rollin’!

In a strange new stunt video, a Frenchman covered in wheels flies down a 99-turn mountainside in China.

The human rollerskate has some impressive moves, and cuts some mean curves — but to the crueler eye he definitely looks maybe just a little bit … goofy.

Starting down a steep starting ramp like a ski-jumper, the French flier cast all in black and blue even sports a little camera sticking up from his lower back like a monkey tail.

Swarms of media take in the stunt, with a surprising number of the Chinese citizenry turning out to watch the crazy man fly down the mountain side.

There’s even a little fireworks show at the end with tall orange sparklers and a crowd of fans cheering.

Check out the whole weird video below!

Feeling some room in your day for a little stupid?

Well, our friends over at Digg.com’s offbeat newsbar have definitely cooked up QUITE a doozy.

Let’s face it, the shelves at the vast majority of U.S. retailers are filled with “wtf?” items aplenty — but there are some items even more fun to mock than others.

Strap on your goofy gizmo humor hat and let’s get stupid.

Topping off Digg.com’s list of the stupid car items currently well-stocked on AutoZone’s shelves kicks off with:

1) Spectre’s Blue Convoluted Tubing: Come on dooooooown. That’s right, the perfect key you ol’ dad telling you, “I told you that you didn’t need that.” When you see how much it takes to wrap these babies around those engine parts — they’re just going to be sitting there like blue Snuffleupagus poop.

2) The Ford Racing Office Chair: Wooooooooow … talk about a stinker! This is a product that just screams “nerd alert!” Yes, that’s right — pretending to be a race car driver, at a $250 price tag. Yup that’s a stupid item, and a waste of a lot of money — you big nerd.

3) Ed Hardy Products: Wow, oh yes, this is another big fat stinker. Someone back in middle school may have convinced you that this tattoo-looking internal car art was super cool, but they sent you down the wrong road, man. To quote the Digg.com piece, if you sport this swag in your car you may as well start “waving the douche flag for everybody to see.”

4) Plasticolor Winnie the Pooh and Piglet Visor Organizer: Yeah, this is a funny one no matter how you slice it (pardon the pun). Just for the record, we here at Viper at major Winnie the Pooh fans. But wow, are you trying to do a manly install or some grease-monkey work on the ol’ car with one of these lying around? Yeah, that’s just not going to happen.

5) Foot Rest: Seriously? Are we THIS lazy? Let’s face it, if you need to prop those feetsies up on a foot rest — then it’s really just time to stop driving right now.

Check out the full list from Digg.com.

Boooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!

For any of our readers that aren’t aware — it’s a very, very bad thing when your car is on fire.

As seen on web sites like ViralViralVideos.com, this video out of Russia blew up over the last few weeks (pardon the pun), netting several hundred thousand hits on YouTube.

Keep in mind, details are scarce in terms of what’s actually going on because all of the coverage of this particular viral video is covered in Russian language (we have no in-house translator at Viper who’s fluent in Russian, very sorry for that, btw.)

A couple details are more than clear, however.

The scene opens with a car in the middle of a Russian street blanketed in heavy flames, sending thick black smoke up into the air.

Amazingly, cars are still driving by the flaming inferno, trying to sneak past in the lane right next to the blaze, so that they can keep motoring along on their way. (It’s frightening how little people value their lives over shaving a little time off of their commute).

Shortly, the car’s fuselage ignites, resulting in a massive explosion that kicks a massive fireball in the air.

The kids looking on and taping the fiery event all gasp: “whooooooooa!”

And yes, sadly, a few of them also laugh once it’s done.

Ah, to be young and still find horrible events like this to be funny.

Check out the whole video below here: