The Down and Dirty (Troupes) of the Getaway Driver

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When it comes to the heist (or the sting) and the getaway driver, there are number of phrases, characters, and such. We all know what you mean when you use a term or refer to a character but where did these things come from?

We’ve dug up some interesting and fun facts we think you’ll find entertaining.

(FYI: a heist is a term generally meaning a bank job, which seems to have reached peak usage in the 1970s and a sting is an operation involving deception, though according to the online dictionary its peak usage predates cars.)

Getaway: Meaning to make a swift exit after committing a crime reached a peak in the 1950s, likely because it was popularized by dime store crime novels—ya’ see.

The wheel man: Circa 1900. A driver, especially for a getaway car.

death-car bonny clydeBonnie and Clyde: (aka Clyde Champion Barrow and Bonnie Parker) Famed bank robbers, even though they tended to rob small convenience stores and post offices. Famed perhaps, because they were in love and because they died violently in an ambush on a rural Louisiana road in 1934.

You might have seen Clyde standing on the running board of a car, firing his gun in certain films? The term “running board” comes from trams and streetcars. Every vehicle up to 1936 had running boards.

Ticking over: (as in “the getaway driver may keep the car ticking over”) means to keep an engine in neutral. It is also used to describe when the car is working but not moving, like when you put it in park without turning it off.

car-813482_1920Ticking over remained in use throughout Britten while in the U.S. most Americans replaced the term with “keep it running,” a term that came from film and television portrayals of bank heists. In reality a robber would be stupid to park a running car outside a bank as it draws attention.

Fake number plates: Having fake number plates seems to go back almost to the beginning of cars (logically the idea of having a real number plate needed to gain traction before criminals decided to fake them). It is such as lucrative industry especially in Asia that for many countries a real number plate might be hard to find. But in the US, except for a small number, plates are reliable.license-plates-3614254_1920

Armored car: The idea for the armored car goes back to the Wild West, where they transported valuables in strongboxes (though carrying strongboxes in carriages probably goes back further than that.) The first armored car that we’d recognize was introduced in 1910, but was more like a mobile bank than a delivery van. The financial industry, the mail, and jewelers all employ armored vans. So too, big name shops, schools, universities and so on to transport money or important records. There tends to be one driver which must stay behind the wheel and several guards on board.

Soft-skinned vehicle: This is any car which isn’t armored, especially one that is used to transport valuables. If you are transporting anything by this method you are employing a different strategy than outright protection. You might be semi covert about the nature of what you transport or have measures in place to “neutralize” the money so it can’t be spent if it is taken. There may be a special reason why the police would need to carry valuables in non-armored cars, for instance in undercover work.

Malcolm: The getaway car used in the film Malcolm (1986 by Cascade Films) might be worth a mention as it can split in two, widthways. The two parts can go down narrow alleyways. How exactly the drivers of the two vehicles avoid falling out of the converted vehicle isn’t that clear.

Transporter: Perhaps one of the most famous getaway drivers in recent cinematic history would be the transporter played by Jason Statham in 2002. The character was a professional contraband courier.

The Fast and the Furious: Deserves a nod because it’s a movie entirely about vehicular heists—by which we mean heists made by people from one a moving vehicle to another. This hasn’t been a thing in real life, at least on land, that we know of.

The Getaway: Which brings us to our last film nod, the movie The Getaway, and of course it’s remake. The most famous real life getaway scene was probably the slow speed chase of O.J. Simpson in his white SUV. But the rise and fall of the Juice is a topic for another post.

There are so many more references out there, so this article has been left criminally short…

 

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The Word about Electric Cars

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It seems that many manufacturers are looking at electric cars to save the car industry, but what do the people who drive vehicles say about it? Does it look like a viable option?

Here are the pluses and minuses according to Debate.org.

PLUSES

It seems to be relatively cheaper to charge a car than to fill up a tank of gas. An average tank of gas costs $45 but an electric car takes $10 to charge.

Operating an EV puts out no toxic engine toxins emissions which improves are quality—an environmental plus.

Apparently electric cars look better than gas powered cars. This must be taken with a grain of salt based upon the particular audience polled for this debate It’s surely possible to make gas powered cars look as good as the electric version, but one can certainly observe that the intent of manufacturers to create a certain aesthetic.

Because there isn’t engine noise, EVs don’t create noise pollution.

Some believe that environmental practices need to change across the board and starting anywhere is a first step to a better world. That putting the cart before the horse for a time is okay because the horse will catch up eventually.

MINUSES

It is probably unlikely that electric vehicles will stop pollution as the electricity needs to come from somewhere. Many people acknowledge that you are just changing what you’re contaminating the environment with.

They also have a greater risk of breaking down in the middle of the street. This means the national transportation grid is weaker by the amount of EVs on the road. What is the cost financially and environmentally for having to roll more tow trucks out each day? No one knows because it’s not PC to ask.

Another uncomfortable truth is that it takes from thirty minutes to eight hours to charge the car up. This is all right if you want to use the car just to head out to the work; it’s not quite so good if you want to use the car throughout the day.

On the topic of refuelling–there currently isn’t an extensive infrastructure to support refuelling. In order to overcome the time factor, many grocery stores are creating charging stations so you can refuel while the car would be sitting idle anyway. This begs the question, how are state and local governments going to recoup the road tax on these vehicles?

EVs have a limited range. So do ICE cars. But with the time to refuel it’s more of an issue to run out. Also you can’t walk to the closest station and bring some electricity back with you. You essentially turn every out of gas experience into a costly tow.

Many people feel that “green washing” draws money and focus away from really dealing with transportation issues on a larger scale.

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The result of the Debate.org’s poll was 65% of people were pro electric cars, while 35% of people were against them. As Jack Gillis of the Washington Post experimented with owning and operating an EV and concluded that, though there was a significant tax advantage to buying an EV they weren’t more intrinsically cost effective. Once Congress discontinues the tax incentives the market could vanish. The real answer is to create a sustainable market for EVs but it’s difficult to manufacture consumer demand. It’s also likely that oil companies will mettle with any attempt get this industry to function on its own.

But whether you back the gas side or the electric side things do seem to be up in the air at the moment. So what about the best of both worlds, the hybrid?

The hybrid’s ability to generate it’s own electricity unchains it from the long charge time and short range. It takes the need for a tow back to normal levels. It does away with the short mileage issues and you won’t need to create an entire special infrastructure to accommodate its need to charge. Then again if you don’t force people to use electric will they build the infrastructure and are you really saving the environment? Well it’s a step in the right direction, a baby step, but perhaps a sustainable baby step.

It may be that, or back to the drawing board.

 

A Strong Car?

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Do you want a strong car? Well, it’s certain you don’t want that falls apart or stalls when you try to start it, but how strong do you want it?

What is a Strong Car?

old-2416225_1920People aren’t quite sure what strength means in a car. A quick web search suggests most people equate strength with safety. That might be the case if you are talking about strong suspension, or strong brakes. But what about strong doors or strong designs? It seems that not everything about your car needs to be strong. It’s about comfort and familiarity too.

If it means indestructible, well, there’s a market for those too. Although, many such “strong cars” like the Jeep, FJ Cruiser and Nissan Xterra have been discontinued.

The History of the Term

Classic cars were generally strong cars. Historically, roads weren’t that great and even if you lived an urban lifestyle, as late as the 1970’s, you might well encounter unpaved or poorly maintained roads. Also they didn’t face as much competition as today’s market so most cars will built to be sturdy. Also these cars weren’t as complex as modern cars and simple usually equates to reliable.

Recently, however, safety and sturdy are less associated. Crumple zones for example, tell the car how to sacrifice themselves in order to absorb impact during collision, which in turn keeps passengers safer. So the trend is away from strong car unless you need something specifically for off road or hauling. Being a sturdy runabout is not seen as a priority in today’s cars, only that they are safe.

Handling

As previously mentioned, one of the best ways to make a strong car is to keep it simple and sturdy. That necessitates different design decisions, particularly in suspension. So most modern strong cars aren’t known for their handling.

280px-Budapest,_Hungexpo,_AMTS_2017,_51Internationally though, AvtoVaz of Russia gives us one of the strongest cars available commercially, the Lada Niva. This unholy combination of all things practical is a new look strong. It looks a little like a Yugo and a Toyata FJ had a baby. It’s sorta cute in a way, and almost feminine.

It’s an off-road, compact SUV, with a unibody and a plush interior. It drives like an SUV, hard to handle, but fits in city parking spots. If you’re exactly the right person for it, it’s exactly the right car for you. If you’re not the right person, you will find it off-putting.

So are Race Cars Strong?

auto-racing-583032_1920On the race track, cars run hard for long periods of time. They also get bumped into. Race cars are the extreme version of the modern idea of strong the engine is powerful, but the body is fiberglass. The goal with race cars is to protect the driver and allow new parts to be cheaply and quickly replaced. All cars are, to a degree, being constantly replenished with new parts throughout, but this is extra true. Only a percentage of the car that starts the race is present in the car that finishes the race.

What about 1st Responder Vehicles

fire-1006924_1920Now we’re closing in on the idea. Police, fire, and EMS are generally outfitted according to municipal guidelines that stem from the needs of that area. Fire trucks obviously have the best type of fire gear for the type of fire they see most, but have you ever seen some of the emergency response vehicles? Each city has to decide what public service agency will deal with what type of crisis. Road issues like breakdowns increasingly go to DOT responders who can deal with non-emergencies like break downs. Because these vehicles have to respond to unknown problems in difficult or dangerous circumstances they are well equipped to route traffic safely around the problem and trained to asses and call in specialists if an injury has occurred.

ghostbusters-1515155_1920Search and rescue is largely staffed by volunteers who bring out their own equipment most of the time. Still, some of these heroes tool-up as well as any government sponsored vehicle and train just as well too. But does cool equipment make a strong car?

Security! Can Someone Call Security?

For a security car strength is a specific thing; a car needs to be bulletproof, in other words provide ballistic protection. Don’t confuse bullet resistant with bullet proof. Most folks will tell you there is no real bullet proof vehicle. They haven’t seen Cadillac One.

Every few years a president will order upgraded the Limo detail. Donald Trump’s Cadillac One is a whole new creature, befitting a polarizing President. Not only does it have a special “armor” which prevents the penetration of bullets it can also shielded from underneath to stop IED mines (Improvised Explosive Device mines). The tires won’t go flat and the drivers are specially trained to perform skill evasion manuvers at high speed in that exact vehicle.

In order to support the weight of the armor, the suspension is reinforced and the engine is horsepower is topped out. (See our post on presidential limos.)

They have radically increased the technological equipment from simple office style car phones to coded wifi and satellite communication. Whenever Trump is aboard there is also several bottles of blood of the President’s own type just for safety’s sake.

If you’d like to do-it-yourself a bullet-proof car it can take between $40,000 and $100,000. It would be cheaper just to put bullet proof glass and install armor plates in a car than to start from scratch. Naturally Cadillac One is built custom from the ground up, and has always been so. Creating a bulletproof or armored car is certainly big business, especially given the high profile clients.

In Conclusion

Just what makes a car a “strong car” is probably in the eye of the beholder, but admit it, however you define it, you want one.

The Race Driver’s Vital Statistics

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Most people see a racing driver navigating a bend and think, “I could do that.” But what really goes into performing that turn?

  • What makes a great race car driver?
  • Why does it seem like you see more portly athletes in sports like baseball, football, and golf than you do racing?
  • If soccer players injury their ACLs and basketball players injure their ankles, where on the body is a driver most prone to get a sports injury?

Well the reason why drivers need athletic bodies is pretty obvious to anyone who takes a ride in a race car. Trying to navigate a turn under high g-forces requires muscle. Maintaining a fast reaction time at high speed in a constantly vibrating car requires a mental focus that leans heavily on your physical conditioning. Let’s break it down.

Being in a race is like being a pressure cooker. The heat alone is nauseating. Drivers need to maintain at least 60ml of oxygen in their lungs to make sure they are in control of the steering. While you do go faster in a private jet there isn’t nearly as many things to hit.

The forces of gravity affect the neck most. A driver’s body is demanding he protect his neck while his life actually depends on keeping the car on the road. Blood is forced up into the brain or down into the feet at different points during a turn. Although a system of cords, nicknamed “bungee cords” inside the helmet try to limit the actual strain on a driver’s neck when a car goes round a corner various lateral and latitudinal forces play havoc on the man trying to master the machine.

auto-racing-558089_1920.jpgIt’s more than skill at the wheel that keeps a driver alive and in first place. It’s the ability to notice and react to the smallest item on the track, all while tracking what the pit is feeding in his ear piece. This takes a rare combination of neurological system and reflexes.

You’d think that the least worked part of a drivers sitting body are the legs. Until you realize that the left leg has to control the brake and the right leg has to control the throttle. Imagine balancing on your posterior and stabilizing with your stomach and moving your legs to work brake and gas in rapid alternation. But since more power is needed to deal with brake than the throttle this creates an imbalance. It wouldn’t be easy to do if all you had to do was tap a button with your big toe, but a driver must actually judge the right amount of pressure to apply to either foot at the right moment. It’s all about judging it right, every few seconds, under extreme pressure.

The shoulders need to be raised in order to sit upright in the car. Although this sounds obvious, the force from the rest of the car increases the tension in this area.

Even in go-kart racing, where most drivers start fitness training is a factor in winning. All car racing involves g-forces and vibrations which a body must train for.

Every sport requires athletic training and favors one body type over others. For racing it’s about being as skinny as possible. Because of the G-force issue, their BMI or Body Mass Index is constantly checked to see if they aren’t carrying excess weight. The diet is described as strict and hard. Formula One even created rules for a minimum weight this year.

swimmers-79592_1920Where many athletes spend a lot of time in the gym there is usually some flexibility in style. A swimmer for example, may need to deal with drag as a result of bulking up, but may feel the power from the extra muscles justifies it. There are specific gym activities racers cannot do, muscle weighs more than fat and too much muscle will take you out of the race. Some people’s natural weight, even when healthy makes it impossible for them to be a top racer. It takes a skinny frame and high power-per-pound capability. It can be easier to start with a naturally skinny person and add muscle.

 

Cars in Bulk

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Imagine this scene…

A salesman in a plaid suit wearing a giant cowboy hat and smile he stole from a shark, stands before his many toys; all of them have one careful owner, not scratch or ding on them…at least not on the outside. A client approaches to look over the stock and suddenly from nowhere, orders two thousand of them.

 

Welcome to world of buying cars in bulk. Okay, it doesn’t happen like that. An independent used car-slinger doesn’t deal in bulk, as far as we know of. Although many new car lots have a fleet representative that takes over if a buyer wants between two and 20 cars, fleet buying and bulk-buying-are nor the same thing.

But the military, taxi cab firms, other car hire firms, the police and so on have to deal with the idea of buying more of the same car at once.

It goes back longer than you might think. Oshkosh Corporation for instance delivers specialty vehicles, mostly trucks, for access, fire, emergency or military and has been in business for a hundred years.

One recent purchase was for 6,107 light tactical vehicles for the US army – mobile command centers-for which the bill came to a cool 1.69 billion. For that price the vehicles need to be fully operational and well serviced, though having said that army vehicles do have a reputation of breaking down, maybe it’s due to attempting to squeeze the price?

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When you’re talking about emergency vehicles you also need something extremely reliable. Increasingly, these deals go to an electric motor vehicle rather than gas or diesel. Although it is a bulk buy as such there needs to be a customized design to start from.

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They may look the same to an outsider, but something as straight forward as a fire truck varies greatly from one state to another, based on their needs.

When it comes to purchasing taxis what do you go for? Ride-share vehicles are privately owned so each one is unique, but when trying to maintain a fleet of corporately owned taxi s it’s best to have all the same car. Uniformity of vehicle profile helps reinforce the brand just like the paint jobs does, but as an added bonus your mechanic can order parts in bulk as well. Every car is purchased outright, except for special circumstances when cars are leased. The contracts on leased taxis are detailed because of the wear and tear inflicted, and the high mileage added. It’s hard to imagine not going to be out of pocket leasing.

automotive-1250546_1920Another person who might buy cars in bulk is that salesman referred to above. Sure cars come in on trade, and many are purchase at auction, but when an independent car dealer finds another dealership liquidating inventory they may buy sever dozen at a time, sight unseen.

Dealerships who offer new vehicles do so by negotiating a bulk rate even though the cars arrive in batches across the year.

This can really help the salesman because if a customer is looking for one specific type of your brand of car they can order one through you and you still make a commission.

These dealers are also less likely to get stuck with hundreds of cars they cannot get rid of…however, they need to be pretty savvy to avoid low or high inventory. Too few cars on hand and you don’t close as many deals. Too many cars on hand and you run into a host of problems including tax issues.

What considerations do you need in order to make a purchase (or should I say several purchases?) this way? In some ways buying a car wholesale is similar to buying cars retail. You want the full service history. You want the papers to be in order. So you can put the car on your lot, and ideally, sell it. It’s that simple.