YOUR NIGHT DRIVING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE HIGH STRESS

Some safety tips to make driving at night easier

How does that scenic drive in the day turn into a blurry, winding nightmare at night?

Your eyes feel like they suddenly got five times worse as you turn onto that familiar side street at night.

Driving at night is uncomfortable for many people. But why?

In this article, you’ll discover why navigating in the dark tends to be difficult for some. And we’ll uncover some obvious and maybe not-so-obvious ways to make it less stressful.

Why is Driving at Night so Hard?

There are three common factors behind your nighttime driving difficulty:

  1. It’s dark – you are not alone in having problems seeing in low-light conditions. Everything is a little less obvious when the sun is not shining. You can’t tell the difference between the road and the ditch at night. The darkness can even create shadows and make the roadway less distinct. Throw some rain on the situation and you’re about to stay home.

This leads to the next issue with night driving:

  • Less time to react – studies have shown there is a connection between tiredness and nighttime driving. The element of sleep deprivation can then lead to higher incidents of accidents on the road because your reflexes or visual reaction time are slower.
  • Glare from bright lights – ironically, the lights that are there to help you see the road ahead are the very same lights that blind you. In fact, the glare when you’re night driving can affect your color recognition and even your peripheral vision. Sometimes the headlights of another car can bounce off your windows and cause blinding reflection.

All of these problems can end in possible accidents and injury.

How to make night driving better

You don’t have to change your plans because it’s dusk already.

Count the following list as your defensive driving checklist. These are techniques to optimize your driving at night, but they also work for severe weather conditions like heavy rain or snowfall.

  • Dim Your Dashboard as low as you can handle. As you move away from urban areas, you will find your eyes will strain less with less light inside the vehicle.
  • Don’t Look at Oncoming Headlights. Other traffic will help you find and stay on the roadway at night. Follow the traffic in front of you to help see further down the road. Also, use your high beams, but switch to low beams for oncoming traffic.
  • Lower Your Speed. Consider your already restricted view and the eye strain from other cars’ headlights as a reason to decrease the speed. Especially as you get onto the main highways or byways where you are relying on your headlights to guide you. Keep it five to eight miles per hour (five to 10 km) under the speed limit. Remember, road markings aren’t going to be so helpful in the dark.
  • Clean Your Windows and Mirrors. Use glass cleaner to remove any dust, debris, and bugs. This will help prevent glare and simply helps you to see better.
  • Focus on street signs. They tend to be reflective which can help you track the roadway better. Also houses that line the roadway can help in the same way. The glow that shines from their front porches or even from inside, can assist in animating the roadway.
  • Don’t bother with “night-driving” glasses. The yellow-tinted glasses are touted as a solution for driving at night because they feature an anti-reflective coating. That coating is meant to decrease reflections from streetlights and oncoming headlights. But, studies show that these special glasses don’t really improve visibility for night drivers and can, in fact, “… slightly worsen performance…” Instead…
  • Get your eyes checked. If you find night-time driving especially bad, you may have astigmatism. It can make lights and objects appear blurry or fuzzy. You may also notice halos around them.  If this is a problem for you, an eye doctor may add a non-glare coating to your lenses to help with astigmatism. This should reduce the light entering your eye, which will result in seeing clearer at night.

Wrap up

Driving at night is a stressful situation for many people. Issues with reduced visibility can make night driving not only nail-biting but can lead to accidents and injury in worst-case scenarios. But, it doesn’t have to be that way if you can pinpoint what exactly is behind the fear. Then you can make changes to improve the experience so you don’t have to cancel plans when the sun goes down.

Make sure your car is in good condition at all times. Consider getting your car inspected at Tirekickers.Biz.

Rare Auto Makers of the UK: (part 3C)

Caterham

The story of Caterham is the story of Lotus. Founded in 1973 as a car company, Caterham was originally top seller of the Lotus series 7. Series 1 Lotus Seven began production in 1957. The car is a great “club-style” racer which produces speed via it’s light weight more than it’s powerful engine. Lotus went on to create a Series 2 (1960), Series 3 (1968) and Series 4 (1970) versions of their seven, before discontinuing production in 1973.

That’s when Caterham stepped in and bought the rights to continue manufacturing the Seven. They continue to make their Caterham 7, a direct evolution of the Series 3 Lotus Seven designed by Colin Chapman. More recently Caterha did start making the Caterham 21, (based on the Lotus Elise) and  the SP/300.R, a track only car co-developed with Lola.

The seven reduces weight by chucking every creature comfort and safety feature they can. Its not a practical modern transportation vehicle, without air-conditioning, airbags, traction/stability control, ABS, satellite navigation or cruise control. Lovers of this car would argue that this car exists as a celebration of the pure driving experience. If you have driven one, please let us know.

David Brown

David Brown believes the car is created for the soul. The well known businessman and car enthusiast put his first car forward in 2014 a year after they founded in in Coventry. In 2017 they moved their headquarters to their brand new manufacturing facilities in Silverstone Park in April 2017.

Their first car was the Speedback GT, which does not have any relationship to the Aston Martin version of the car. Their second car was the Mini Remastered in 2018, which is pretty closely related to the Mini Coup.

Using 5.0-litre Jaguar AJ-V8 engine as a powerplant the fastback gets 565 lb⋅ft of torque. It’s inspired by 960s racing grand tourers and British jet aircraft of the same era.

The Mini Remastered powerplant is the basic Mini engine delivering up to 83 bhp. They basically strip a brand new mini “donor” car and redesign the body by all-new steel body shell is bespoke-made by British Motor Heritage, which is then coach built and refined by David Brown Automotive–painstakingly creating something that looks just like it did before they touched it. They also make some improvements to the interior adding a air conditioning, electric start/stop button, remote central locking, full LED lighting and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple® CarPlay®, satellite navigation3G4GBluetooth® and DAB connectivity, and electric power assist steering. Just in case you weren’t paying enough for your mini.

MG

MG not only makes smaller sports cars they would appear to hold the record for the smallest Web Address. mg.co.uk, really? It’s taking economy a bit seriously. MG belongs to to Chinese corporation, SAIC Auto Group, via their merger with Nanjing Automobile Group, who originally acquired MG. SAIC now manufactures all cars in its plant in China, continuing all MG lines although they’ve continued to modernize the design a bit.

As a British Car Company with its own Marque, M.G. Car Co. Ltd, only existed from 1930 to 1972, though it was founded by Cecil Kimber sometime around 1924. How is a car company founded 6 years before it incorporates? Cecil Worked for William Morris of Morris Garages a retail sales and service garage in Oxford. Cecil was a sales manager for Morris who came up with the idea of building a line of sports cars and put MG Super Sports on the front plate. William Morris kept the project under his own name until he sold it to his own company, which merged with Austin to become BMC (British Motor Company), which absorbed Leyland Motor Company becoming BLMC. It got passed around as BLMC bought Rover, at one point being MG Rover Group before Nanjing bought them and later merged with SAIC. Dizzy yet? Us too!

Fun Fact: No one can decide when they started making MGs. We picked 1924 because that’s when they registered their trademark, but full disclosure, they were already putting the MG plate on cars before then. It’s important you know these things in case someone bets you they have an MG built in 1923 and you say, “Impossible!” It’s totally possible.

If you think the company rebranding is hard to follow the MG model line itself is more of a pretzel still. What began as a new sporting body on a Morris Oxford chassis, became a purpose designed vehicle in 1928 (the M type), which spawned a T-Series of Midgets, and later Y-type Saloons (Sedans), and a host of race cars of course. There are some major models that lasted quite a while, like the MGB, but there are many more short runs of re-badged cars like the MG Midget in 1961, really a restyled Austin-Healey Sprite.

There is not room in this post to cover the litany of models, some of which were only popular in certain countries, but what’s amazing is the level of design consistency. No matter who makes them or owned them at the time, an MG always looks like a relative it’s cousins.

Morgan

Founded in 1910, by Henry Frederic Stanley Morgan, Morgan Motor Company is a English motor car manufacturer currently owned by Italian investment group Investindustrial. Based in Worcestershire, Morgan employs approximately 220 people, who hand make 850 cars per year.

All Morgan cars are made of wood, frame and exterior, and have always been made of wood. H.F.S. Morgan quit the Great Western Railway in 1904 to open a garage, develop independent front suspension, and design a cool-looking three wheel round about car. The company began making four wheel cars in 1935 and phased out three-wheelers in 1952. HMS helmed the company until his death in 1959.

Interesting facts: The Morgan became the only car ever to appear in a shop window at Harrods for sale at 63 pounds sterling. They had racing success with three wheels in in 1913 winning the Cyclecar Grand Prix at Amiens in France. Racing success drove sales until  E. B. Ware’s rolled his racer at Brooklands in 1924, which lead to three wheeled cars being banned from racing.

The company produced roadsters, coupes and super-sports. All were original looking and worth staring at if you get a chance.

You can check them out for yourself at their museum and see examples of every model they’ve made. If you’d like to order one, be prepared to wait on the list between 6 months and 10 years.

Noble

Chief designer and founder, Lee Noble, started Noble as a make of express sports cars in 1999. He was also the manager until 2009 and though he sold his part of the company in 2006. Based in Leicester, England, bodyworks and chassis are manufactured in South Africa (Port Elizabeth), and assembled in the Noble plant.

M400

The company makes low quantities of their lines, including the M12 GTO, M12 GTO-3, M12 GTO-3R and Noble M400. In 2009 Noble released a Hypercar, the M600, capable of 650 bhp via a 4.4-litre V8 Volvo, twin-turbocharged engine, with a Graziano 6 speed manual gearbox.

If you’re American and want to buy a GTO-3Rs or M400, only about 200 were imported, combined. You can get your hands on one from 1G Racing out of Ohio under the name Rossion Q1. The 3R and M400 are essentially the same car with minor differences in engines and suspensions. Essentially the M400 is the track variant which was the reason 1G bought the exclusive rights to American Distribution in 2007.

TVR

Created in 1947 by English engineers Trevor Wilkinson and Jack Pickard, TVR makes lightweight sports cars with powerful engines, offering a diverse range of coupés and convertibles.

At one point, TVR was the third-largest specialized sports car manufacturer in the world at present the American market is the focus of their efforts to grow.

In December 2006, the company was divided into several small firms. Which makes sense when you consider how much this company has changed over a series of eras–based often on the vision of the new owner. Trevor Wilkinson was born in Blackpool, May 14th, 1923, and left school at 14 to start an engineering apprenticeship at a local garage. His general engineering and car sup-up shop, named Trevcar took off when partner Jack Pickard joined the company in 1947. The new TVR Engineering focused on cars and thrived, eventually making their own one-offs called TVR One, Two, and Three between 1949 and 1953.

Trevor left TVR in 1962 and eventually died in 2008. Between 63 and 65 the company almost died–literally announcing they wouldn’t make any more cars. They weren’t able to pay Ford for powertrains anymore is the biggest reason. In 1965 Martin Lilley took over the vision of TVR, which was now famous for their racers and for unreliability in their street cars (engines too big for the brakes and chassis design.

The Lilly era brought the Vixen series one model. He moved production from Hoo Hill to Bristol Avenue and hired model Helen Jones to pose nude on the TVR stand at the British International Motor Show at Earls Court in 1970. It was hugely controversial, so they did it again in 1971.

TVR No. 2

In the 1980s, under the ownership of Peter Wheeler took over, grew engine capacity from 3.5 to 5 liters, and re-introduced the traditional design elements from the M-series. This finally worked to bring the company from financial disaster to the black. The company finally designed their own engine, the AJP8, a V-8 engine named after consultants Al Melling, John Ravenscroft and Peter Wheeler. The engine was modified to a straight-six before being widely used in their models, because it was cheaper to make and maintain than the eight.

In July 2004, Russian Nikolay Smolensky bought the company. His leadership saw the near death of the brand and his attempts to make it profitable lead to laying off so many workers that car owners paraded their cars through London, creating the single biggest one-marque convoy November 26, 2006, Dubbed “London Thunder.”

The company was restructured auctioned back to Smolensky and is now owned by a group of investors including the Government of Wales. They’ve been developing a new car design since June of 2015, the TVR Griffith, whose production might save the company. The company was owed more than £8.23 million from debtors, and has net assets slightly exceeding £2.1 million, but must pay off £2 million loan from the Welsh government and a £3 million loan from financial firm Fiduciam.

Westfield

Westfield is an English make of cars founded in the beginning of the 82. They currently offer both factory built and kit versions of several two-seater, open top sportscars based on the Lotus 7. You read that right, Collin Chapman’s Lotus Seven strikes again.

Caterham Cars bought the rights from Lotus, but Chris Smith from Westfield went into direct competition with his own kit. Did Caterham threaten to sue? YES. Westfield settled out of court and then improved the design of their cars. While the surface appearance of the cars remains similar you’ll know a Westfield by it’s fiberglass body, which is ironically more like the original lotus.

Westfield Sport

When Chris Smith became the director of Westfield he didn’t dream of creating a factory built car, but the car continues to sell well and maintains a great reputation for craftsmanship. The model range of Westfield is not often replenished by new cars, BUT see special facts section below to know why Westfield is probably going to be around for awhile.

Special Notes: Total Kit Car, Westfield produces about 450 SEi and XTR chassis per year.
Top Gear, a Westfield XTR2 set a faster lap time than the reigning record holder of that series, the Pagani Zonda.
June 2009 Westfield became the first Niche Vehicle Manufacturer to be awarded European Small Series Production Status.

Rivian R1T

All-electric cars (aka EVs) are becoming nearly as common as hybrid cars. While the technology seemed to take a bit longer to enter the truck world, it’s likely not long before we see a highly competitive market with all the major manufacturers vying for entry.

Enter the Rivian R1T all-electric truck. Not only is this the first year for the model, but the R1T will also be the first-ever all-electric truck to be put into full production.

Under the “Hood”

Rivian is setting the bar for all-electric trucks high with the R1T. There will be other power options in future model years, but the stats for the initial truck are impressive. A 128.9-kWh powers a quad-motor setup, that provides over 830 horsepower to the transmission.

The power is distributed to each wheel with the all-wheel-drive with independent motors powering each wheel. Taking advantage of the quad-motor setup, the R1T is capable of what Rivian calls the “Tank Turn.” The quad motors allow the wheels on each side to turn in opposite directions, causing the R1T to turn completely around at a standstill.

Capabilities

Having so much power in a truck does nothing if its capabilities don’t match. Rivian claims the R1T can carry a payload of about 1,700 pounds or tow over 11,000 pounds. While carrying or towing, the extra weight significantly impacts the range of the truck, the cargo and towing limits are impressive.

Off-Road

Somewhat surprising for an all-electric truck, the Rivian R1T also offers impressive and genuine off-road capabilities. To keep good aerodynamics while on the road, the suspension height is a mild 8 inches. However, this can be adjusted on the fly, and the air suspension can increase the clearance to 14 inches.

The off-road capabilities do not affect the on-road performance. The 835-horsepower launches the truck from a stop to reach 60 mph in just over 3-seconds. This performance has been reported to stay throughout the charge levels in the battery.

Range

Right now, the R1T will only be offered with Rivian calling the “large” battery. The 128.9-kWh gives the truck an estimated range of 314 miles. However, in real-world testing with a payload consistent with an expected payload, a 75 mph speed only gave a range of 220 miles. This translates to an estimated 35 MPGe.

In future model years, Rivian is expected to introduce a “max” and a smaller “standard” battery, which would give ranges of about 400 and 240 miles, respectively.

Interior

Matching other electric vehicles, the interior dash panel is clean with just two multifunction/instrument screens. The two large 16-inch screens sit in a dash made from premium wood and leather.

For security, there are nearly 12 cubic feet of lockable storage space in the cabin, and a large trunk under the hood, upfront. The locking trunk brings a great relief from trying to hide bigger items in the bed.

Warranties

It’s not uncommon for people to have concerns about the durability and longevity of a new model, especially one from a brand new manufacturer. Rivian offers a 5-year or 60,000-mile limited bumper-to-bumper warranty and 8-years or 175,000 miles for the battery and powertrain. This is a great relief for this first-ever all-electric truck.

Price

This performance and capability do not come cheap. Checking in at nearly $75,000 some drivers might be priced out of this first-ever electric truck. However, there are very few downsides found in the R1T, and future models will come with even more features and options.

Just for Fun #113

Just to be sure…out of an abundance of caution…because you never really know what happened to your car before it was listed for sale…

Get your car inspected before you buy so you don’t overpay. TireKickers!

Until now, you didn’t know that getting a car inspection before buying will keep you from buying an unsafe car. Now you do. Tire Kickers come to you.

Rare Auto Makers of the UK (Part 3b)

As with every nation known for making cars, the UK has quite a few small makers that are worth taking note of. Unlike most nations most of the smaller auto manufacturers seem to start their name with an “A.” Just kidding, although you’ll see it’s sort of true. We hope you enjoy this brief list of them. If you know of some we missed please comment. (PS yes, I know the picture says part 3a. Again I recycle the graphics for the rare makers.)

AC

AC Cars Ltd was one of the first car makers of Great Britain. It makes sports cars set apart by excellent dynamics and racing qualities. AC stood for Auto Carriers Ltd. in the beginning. Around 1901 the Weller brothers began tinkering with a making a car, a 20 HP touring car which they presented at the Crystal Palace motor show in 1903.

Their business manager and financial backer, John Portwine, was a butcher by trade. He didn’t want to take that full car into production. It was too big and only useful as a passenger vehicle. So they decided to crate a 3 wheeled delivery vehicle first.

In 1904 the company, now names Autocars and Accessories, debuted a very popular single seater with a cargo box behind it. Three years later they made a version available with a bench seat in place of the cargo box, called the sociable.

1927 Royal Saloon Car

The company became Auto Carriers Ltd. in 1911, adopted their round logo, and produced their first four-wheeled car in 1913. WWI put the company on hold for a bit. In 1921, Selwyn Edge (previously of Napier), pushed the John’s Weller & Portwine out of the company, renaming it to AC Cars Ltd. and began promoting the car through racing.

Sales declined and the company was bought out by the Hurlock family who had not interest in making cars. Hurlocks ran a successful haulage business and wanted the factory on High Street as a warehouse. They continued to service cars until they agreed in 1930 to start producing cars again. In 1932 they contracted with Standard to supply new chassis. The 2nd world war shut them down again, but after the war AC got a government contract to produce the odd-looking Thundersley Invacar Type 57. This crazy thing had a fibreglass-body, one seat, and a Villiers 2-stroke engines. This odd car was designed for wounded veterans, distributed for free to the disabled, and kept AC solvent for decades.

Invalid Car

Thus the company embarked on their continued journey as both an industrial/business car maker as well as a race/sports car maker.

As a race car maker they have a storied history including an early La Mans success but things really kicked into high gear when AC was approached by none other than Carol Shelby in 1961. He wanted to put a small block Ford Windsor V8 engine into an Ace chassis. The AC Ace could be a post unto itself having developed through a pattern of race team experimentation across Europe, which spawned production cars from AC based on the battlefield (racetrack) success of these modifications. (We say modification but don’t think they added a spoiler or something, we’re talking about rebuilds with new engines on an AC Chassis in some cases.)

The result of the Shelby collaboration also produced a set of cars (31 of them) that were ultimately sold to the public as Cobra 427 S/C. These cars sell for around $1.5 million if you can get your hands on one.

Arash

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest creature on Earth and putting it’s image on the Arash emblem was a bold statement about the type of car Arash Farboud was going to make. Starting in 1999 Farbound committed to a new era of power and convenience in sports cars. Originally Farboud Limited, (name changed in ’06) Arash Motor Company makes Supercars and Hypercars based in Newmarket, Suffolk, England.

AF8

Of course it wouldn’t be a British car company without more drama than a high school cheer squad. So here is the short version. Arash’s first design, the Farboud GT, garnered a lot of attention at its debut in Birmingham NEC Autosport Show, but his second car, the Farboud GTS became a sought after design–by other designers. Chris Marsh worked for Arash (sales and marketing) and became obsessed with the car. Arash granted him licence to the shape allowing Chris to switch out he engine, stream line the doors and improve the interior, which gave the engine a link to bio-fuel. After trying to re-brand the car as “the Fangion” after deceased Argentine F1 racer, but being stopped by the family, Chris renamed it “the Farbio.”

Farbio GTS

Arash sold his shares of Farbio to Michael Simmonds, who later sold to Laurence Tomlinson of Ginetta fame, who kept the design and renamed the car the Ginetta F400.

Arash retained 100% of what is now Arash Motor Company and went on to design more fast and powerful cars–the AF10 (2009) and AF8 (2016). The AF10 is 7.0-litre V8 engine producing at least 500bhp. The AF8 is a mid-engined 7.0-litre V8 engine producing 505bhp (Brake Horsepower).

Ariel

You might think of Arial the Bicyle and later motorbike maker in Bournbrook, Birmingham, but we are talking about the tiny maker of cars in Crewkerne, in SomersetEngland, where a team of 7 to 30 people makes about 100 cars a year.

Founded by Simon Saunders in 1991, Arial makes 4 different designs.

The Atom is an extremely light, high performance car, with unique “exoskeleton” design, (no bodywork or roof) its built entirely around the tube chassis, making it weigh less than 500 kg (1,102 lb). If you want to look like you’re driving an F1 Racer on the street, the Atom is your only choice as there are no other street legal cars of this design. Powered by a Honda Civic Type-R engine and gearbox the 3.5R supercharged model will get you around 700 bhp per ton!

The Ace is Ariel’s attempt at a bike, which could be confusing given the historic bike maker mentioned above. It’s powered by a Honda 1237cc V4 engine and gearbox.

The Nomad can be thought of as an off-road version of the Atom. This road-legal buggy only produces 235bhp.

In August 2017, Ariel announced their electric sports car, called HIPERCAR (High Performance Carbon Reduction), APM200 electric motors, supplied by a Norfolk-based electric bus maker.

Ascari

Ascari Cars Ltd. is a producer of sports cars based in Banberi, UK. The company was founded by Dutch millionaire Klaas Zwart. The company is named after two-time F1 world champion Alberto Ascari (1918—1955).

Very little is known about Ascari. They established in Dorset originally, in 1994. In 2000 they built their new facility in Banbury in northern Oxfordshire.

Its first limited-edition car, the Ascari Ecosse, (1998). Ascari’s second car, the Ascari KZ1, was developed at Banbury, which also housed Team Ascari’s racing assets. The premises are now occupied by Haas F1 Team, of Newman Hass fame. We wouldn’t mention them at all if they stuck to race cars, but they did have a 2005 road-going version called the Ascari KZ1-R version of the A410 race car.

A full list of their cars and versions can be found at this link. Very pretty web surfing for folks like us.

Bristol

Bristol Cars is technically defunct in our opinion, though you could see some of their cars on the road if you get lucky. The manufactured a very small number of “deluxe” class cars by hand until March of 2011 when they suspended manufacture, changed their board members and fired 22 employees.

Bristol Cars was born out of the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1945 when the war effort would no longer be buying warplanes. Much of Bristol was bombed during WWII so the entire area was being remade and modernized.

Bristol Bullet

Interestingly, a new company was formed in 2011 to sell off components of the old one. The new company is owned by  Kamkorp Group, and mainly operated to service units it had previously sold. In 2018 they began talking about a new flagship cars design called the “Bullet” a two-seat, open-top sports car  which commemorated their 70th year as a company. Power is sourced from a naturally aspirated 4.8-litre BMW V8 producing 400 bhp, an tribute to their the Bristol 405 Drophead coupé. At least 8 completed chassis with BMW V8 before the company again dissolved without going into full production.

The Top Three Apps for Teen Driver Safety

And Why They are So Good for Parents

You’re not sure who’s more worried: you or your teen driver.

And it makes sense to worry since teen drivers are not the most reliable on the roadway.

In fact, did you know that crashes involving teen drivers are more often than not due to three critical errors: lack of scanning, speeding, and distractions?  

Fortunately, technology has made it easier for parents to enjoy peace of mind when their teens are behind the wheel. In addition to giving parents some control, driver apps are designed to monitor their children’s driving behaviors.

Let’s look at three of the most useful apps for parents of teen drivers.

1.      Mama Bear

This is the “family safety” app for parents who want those immediate notifications on how fast Stacey’s driving.

  • Free and pay versions – available on Android and IOS

It also features:

  • Driving alerts that tell you when your teenager drives over a particular speed limit that you have set in the app.
  • Location alerts: automatic alerts when kids arrive at school or leave school.
  • Social media monitoring: allows you to see who your child is talking to on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Monitors text messages.
  • Easy check-in buttons along with emoticons including “come get me,” and “emergency.”

2.      Life 360

“Not just a family safety app,” but a comprehensive tool that focuses on the safety of the family unit and allows the teenager to notify parents if they’re in emergency situations.

  • Free and pay versions – available on Android and IOS

It also features:

  • Individual driver reports: get an up-to-date account of what your teen is doing on the road. You’ll be able to check their top speeds, whether they’re texting and driving and if they are “hard-braking.”  
  • crash detection: immediate alerts if there has been an accident.
  • emergency dispatch: the app can send help to anyone that sends an emergency alert.
  • roadside assistance – if your child locks their keys in the car or has a flat tire.
  • Location alerts: find out how far away you are from any of your family members. You’ll also be able to receive alerts if and when your teen enters or leaves a certain designated area.

3.      DriveSmart

Advertised as “much more than an app,” it encourages accountability and responsibility behind the wheel with a rewards system.

  • Free  – available on Android and IOS
  • It also features:
  • Analytics of your child’s driving in five areas: regulations, attention, prudence, adaptation, and dexterity.
  • Set your teen driver’s phone to drive mode which will send incoming calls directly to voicemail. Also mutes incoming texts with an auto-response.
  • DriverSmart certificate – earn coins and discounts.
  • Driver assistance in case of emergency.
  • Tips for driver improvement, so you know what driving skills your teen could use work on.

What you will need to start using a driving app:

All three apps are easy to download and start using.

  1. Find the particular app in Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
  2. Add your family members to your account. Some will send texts or prompts to your family to ask if they want to join.  You will most likely need to set up a profile with each person’s details, including phone numbers and passwords. Some apps also ask for your child’s social media account info.
  3. You may also need to give the app permission to use your location.

Final Thoughts

If you want peace of mind when your teenager is driving, there are apps to make that a reality. The top three, MamaBear, Life360, and DriveSmart, each have unique safety features that allow you as the parent to check in on your child and make sure they’re following the rules of the road as well as the rules of the household. They are simple to use and give your teen the freedom they want while leaving some control in your hands.

Auto Makers: UK (Part 3A)

When you think about car makers the US, UK, Germany, Italy, & Japan are the big names that come to mind. Of course the actual manufacturing is done all over the world no matter what parent company name goes on the final product or where it is ultimately sold.

It’s also true that a ton of cars are made by manufacturers in countries other than the big 5 listed above. Many are even sold in large markets like the US but some of them are not sold outside their own borders. This series starts with the big auto countries but it won’t stop until we’ve covered every country that makes a car for sale to the public.

Big Names in British Vehicles

Aston Martin

Almost an iconically associated with Great Britain (and alphabetically first), the Aston Martin brand is as British as James Bond. It’s a good connection for the UK to draw as Aston Martin makes only luxury and sports cars and Grand Tourers. But does reality bare up to the hype? There is one way the British people are different than the car. They are less fragile. Aston Martins look fantastic, ride like a dream, and have all those cool design touches you’d want in a luxury vehicle…but they aren’t as reliable as the stalwart British citizens who sipped tea in bunkers during German air raids.

Aston was founded in 1913, and is now owned by a consortium of investors, (like Prestige Motor Holdings, Asmar, Primewagon, Adeem Investments, Daimler, and a number of minor shareholders. For about 20 years, starting in 1987, Ford owned Aston Martin. They manufacture in in GaydonWarwickshire, as does everyone apparently, but they have another facility in Wales.

Cars range from famous old grand tourer DB9, to their smallest sports car, Vantage, to the stylish Vantage Roadster, the four-door Rapide S, the One-77-inspired Vanquish, the Vulcan, and DB11. (That last one sounds like a star wars robot doesn’t it. We’ll include a pic so you believe us. )

Aston currently has a lucrative partnership with Mercedes Benz and is traded on the London Stock Exchange. In August 2017, a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1/1 previously driven by both Carol Shelby and  Stirling Moss became the most expensive British car ever sold at auction, bringing in $22,550,000 US.  

Bentley

Bentley make luxury motorcars with an impressive Grand Touring history (winning 24 Hours of Le Mans six times between  1924 to 2003. These cars are hand-built, and are sold via franchised dealers around the world.

 W. O. Bentley created Bentley Motors Limited in 1919, in 1998 it became a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. It’s current line include the Flying SpurContinental GTBentayga and the Mulsanne. Worthy of note is that WWII and the American Stock Market Crash of 1929 were hard to weather for a luxury car maker. They went into making planes, got bought by Rolls Royce, who went into receivership and was parted out to VW who currently owns Bentley. However, that’s an extremely abbreviated version of the history of this company that’s been traded around and restructured seemingly more often than not. How they managed to produce consistently great cars through that turbulence is remarkable.

Bentley was noted for its four consecutive victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, from 1927 to 1930.

Jaguar

Officially Jaguar began in September, 1935, but they are a bit older. Starting in 1922 as a maker of motorcycle sidecars (Swallow Sidecar Company), they expanded to full cars by joining forces with Standard Motor Co. The name changed to Jaguar Cars in 1945. Merged in 1966, and again in 1968, became nationalized in 1975 and then was spun off in 1984. Then like so many British car companies it was acquired by Ford in the 1990’s.

Who owns Jaguar now? That takes a bit of digging. Ford also bought Land Rover (2000) and in 2008 Ford sold both Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors. The merging of manufacturing was complete by 2013 and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) was formed. Together they are a subsidiary of Tata Motors, an Indian maker of cars, truck and vans (and more recently EV’s) headquartered in Mumbai, India.

Jaguar manufactures all over the place though their headquarters remained in the UK, (Whitney, Coventry, England) and most of their executives managed to keep most of their positions.

Worthy of note: The S.S. was dropped and the Jaguar was picked up in 1945 leading us to wonder if SS was an unpopular thing to have in your name right at the end of WWII. Also noteworthy was Jag’s wins at La Mons, 1951, 53, & 55-57.

Jaguar made its name by producing a series of successful eye-catching sports cars and currently makes popular models like  F-type and F-type Coupe, Jaguar XE, Jaguar XF, stylish grand tourer XK, and futuristic looking saloon (sedan) Jaguar XJ.

Do they or have they made anything besides luxury sports cars. Yes, they’ve made Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked), the Fox armoured reconnaissance vehicle, and the Ferret Scout Car for the British Army.

Land Rover

Land Rover is mainly known for four-wheel driveoff-road capable vehicles, which is a bit ironic as the company has a history marked by ups and downs with frequent periods of challenge. Challenges include things like economic downturns in the market, fuel crises, reliability problems and multiple changes in ownership.

original vehicle was started in 1947 by Maurice Wilks, and his brother Spencer on their farm. While the American Jeep is clearly an inspiration for the vehicle, Land Rover has done some remarkable things with aesthetics to set themselves apart. What began as a rugged and simple utilitarian vehicle with light green paint (military surplus), has become a luxury off-road vehicle that caused “Top Gear” to refer to as “the maker of the world’s best 4×4”.

King George VI granted Land Rover a Royal Warrant in 1951, and in 2001 it received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for outstanding contribution to international trade. Still for most Americans the vehicles are expensive to buy and expensive to fix–which you may need to do several times a year. The American Jeep and the Japanese versions of Jeeps like the Toyota Land Cruiser are formidable competitors at juicy American market. Still Jaguar Land Rover intends to spend $180 million on a research and development center in Coventry where engineers will be designing the future of 4×4 off road.

Lotus

Founded in 1948 by Colin Chapman, Lotus Cars Limited is best known for making light weight  sports cars and racing cars with exceptional handling. Well, Lotus Engineering Ltd. formally came about in 1952 but Chapman, who would continue to own Lotus for many years, officially started tinkering with custom race cars in back in ’48.

Noteworthy: Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman is the inspiration behind the four initials in the Lotus Logo seen here.

Lotus became active in Formula One racing in 1958 and spun off a racing division. While Lotus stayed in F1 until 1994 their formal racing division was gone by 1971. In the late 60’s and early 70’s Lotus sold exclusively as a kit car, but slowly switched over to factory built models. One of the most popular of which, the Lotus 7, can still be purchased though now it will be built by Caterham Cars (still made in England).

The hallmark of Lotus is complete fiberglass monocoque fitted with built-in steel pickup points, backbone chassis, and overhead camshaft engines. Of course when they began to collaborate with Ford, the overhead cam from Coventry Climax but was replaced by Lotus head and twin cam valve gear. In the 1980s, Lotus collaborated with Vauxhall Motors to produce the Lotus Carlton, Vauxhall’s fastest street legal car.

A monocoque is a shell around the car made by using both chassis as the frame in a single construction.

GoMechanic.com

McLaren

Fasten your seat belts for this one because McLaren is a car story with more twists than a formula 1 racetrack. The short story is that McLaren makes supercars that are priced a little less ridiculously than most supercars, makes them in Woking, England, and formally began doing so in 1985. At 36 that makes it one of the youngsters in the game, but that’s where things get confusing.

For one thing Founder Bruce McLaren, formerly of Aukland New Zealand, died in a car accident in 1970. Bruce grew up working at his parents service station where he became something of a savant with cars. He started racing at age 15 when he won a local hill climb.

Bruce moved to England in 1958 and started racing Formula 1, becoming the first US Grand Prix at age 22 (the youngest winner ever). His impressive driving career racked up many wins including three more Grand Prixs and a La Mons in 1966 (that time with Ford.)

Obviously F1 hinges on cutting edge tech as driving skill and strategy. McLaren the company grew by pioneering technology. 10 years after Bruce’s tragic death, his company joined forces with Ron Dennis Project four racing team and the match skyrocketed their success. By 1985 McLaren Cars was born but it’s not accurate to call it a start up since they had teams of engineers and access to patent technology–they were hardly starting from scratch.

In 1988 the company spun off their car company to allow investment in the development of a new car named the F1, which they produced in 1992. That company went dormant from 1994 to 2010 when it reformed as McLaren Automotive. Then in 2017 Ron Dennis sold his shares in the company to the McLaren Group allowing the company to be absorbed back into the fold.

The current product structure began in 2015, dividing into three series–Sports, Super, and Ultimate. For the Ultimate Series they offered the P1 & P1 GTR (though they added and relaunched these more recently). For the Sports and Super Series, rather than giving some fancy marketing name to their cars they stick to a naming convention. They begin with the power output in PS, then a letter for the model type. So current models include cars like the 570S (for sport), 540C (for Club), and 600LT (for Long Tail). Its a cool idea, though an American consumer might prefer horse power to PS.

The naming thing goes out the window a little with their use of Spider as an edition type. So you can get a 570S Spider. Like the one in the picture.

PS or PferdStarke is the metric measure of horsepower. It is the equivalent of 98.6% of one HP.

thejcbgroup.co.uk

MINI

Not surprisingly, Mini is famous for small cars, predominately made in England and Holland. We’d like to say that it was founded in 1959 because that’s when the name started popping up on things like the Austin Mini and the Morris Mini, but as a Marque Mini began in 1969.

The original Mini was a line of British small cars manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) which through a series of mergers and acquisitions (literally 5), ended up in the possession of British Aerospace. During that time they produced models included the Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven, the CountrymanMoke, 1275GT and Clubman, as well as a performance line named Mini Coopers (a nod to Racing Legend John Cooper).

Their final acquisition happened when BMW bought Rover Group in 1994 and spun Mini back out into it’s own thing. Mini produced its line up of cars under it’s own name until 2000, then BMW relaunched the brand with a whole new line of cars in 2001: the Hardtop/Hatch/Convertible (three-door hatchback), Clubman (estate or station wagon), Countryman (five-door crossover), Coupe/Roadster and Paceman (three-door crossover).

Mini vehicles have been active in rallying and the Mini Cooper S won the Monte Carlo Rally three times in the 1960’s.

Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce has both a logo (RR) and the Spirit of Ecstasy, the winged figure.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is a British luxury automobile maker. Rolls-Royce was named after its founders, Sir Henry Royce and Charles Stewart Rolls. However, the current company, subsidiary of BMW AG has no direct relationship to Rolls-Royce-branded vehicles produced prior to 2003.

Bentley Motors Limited (a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG) is the direct successor to Rolls-Royce Motors. In 1998 BMW licensed the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo. They now produce the Phantom four-door (sedan, coupe and convertible), Ghost four-door saloon, Wraith two-door coupé, Dawn convertible, and the Cullinan SUV. Selling primarily in the US and China.

Rolls-Royce Motors was created in 1973 during the de-merger of the Rolls-Royce automotive business from the nationalized Rolls-Royce Limited, who had been making mostly jet engines. The company was bought by Vickers in 1980 and sold in 1998 to VW.

The story of the split up of Rolls-Royce Bentley goes like this. BMW was supplying the engines as well as other parts for the manufacture of the vehicles. When the company came up for sale BMW was outbid by Volkswagen. This created a difficulty since VW wasn’t prepared to start making their own engines. The two companies agreed to split Rolls-Royce brand and trademark grill off to BMW in exchange for $40 million dollars and continued manufacture of engines until 2003. VW got Bentley and all the manufacturing and headquarters buildings.

Vauxhall

Do we call Vauxhall a major UK car maker? Most Americans have never heard of it. It’s headquartered in Charlton England and Vauxhall has been the second-largest selling car brand in the UK for more than two decades. But it’s been owned by US Car Makre for 92 years and doesn’t seem to design it’s own original car brands anymore.

The Vauxhall story sounds more like one you’d hear about a Japanese Car maker, getting it’s start before the American Civil War as a pump and marine engine maker. It later sold and became Vauxhall Iron works before making its first cars in 1903. In 1925 GM came into the picture which took Vauxhall out of the luxury car game in favor of the mass market.

During the 1980’s it stopped exporting cars entirely and became a local manufacturer of other car brands–at that primarily the German Car Company, Opal. Another example would be cars of the Australian maker, Holden (Commodore and Ute), are also sold in the UK with a Vauxhall code plate (ie VIN)

In 2017 Vauxhall sold to Groupe PSA, and currently sells Vauxhall-branded made in Opel factories in Germany, Spain, and Poland as well as in the UK. Their car makes include the Astra (small family car), Corsa (supermini), Insignia (large family car), Crossland (subcompact crossover SUV), Mokka (subcompact SUV), and Grandland (compact SUV).

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for our next installment Automakers: UK part 3B Lesser known UK car makers.

Lesser Known Japanese Car Makers (P2B)

I know the picture says Part 2 A, I stole a picture from myself to save time. We really needed to get straight into the fun part of the post which is car makers in Japan you have likely never near of.

Daihatsu

Officially founded in 1907, Daihatsu Kogyo Co. Ltd., is now a subsidiary of Toyota specializing in vehicle for export to more than 100 countries. This company LOVES their symbolism. Whether it’s their name, a combination of two hieroglyphs which together mean Osaka Production of Engine, or the illustration of their history which can be found at the website they created to celebrate their 110th birthday.

Why are they not listed as one of the oldest car companies in Japan when they were founded in 1907? The simple answer is that they got their start on a college campus as a partnership between Japanese businessmen and students and teachers of technology. The focus was on producing engines in Japan, including steam engines for use on boats–a more practical use of energy at the time.

Fuso

From the Website and the Logo you might be tempted to believe that Fuso is another subsidiary of Mitsubishi, and it is, except that currently the German car Company Daimler owns about 90% of the stock. Fuso makes buses and trucks since 1920’s as well as chassis for vans and the Fuso Canter pictured here.

Mitsuoka

Mitsuoka holds the record for having the creepiest logo. Susumu Mitsuoka founded the company in 1968, originally to do repairs and pre-sale prep, but they’ve quickly evolved to one of the most original car designers on the market. As for the logo, what’s officially described as “white figure “eight” and star inside a circle is depicted against the blue background” that’s instantly recognized by drivers all over the world, looks to us like something from the “Blair Witch Project.” But you tell us, love it or hate it, leave a comment.

Scion

Founded in 2003, Scion is a wholly owned concern of Toyota, making cars only for the American market. Translated, “scion” means Heir, but the logo was designed in California to appeal to surfers and water skiers. They offer only one configuration of each car model. Their flagship models are the SCION FUSE and SCION T2B.

Hino

If Hino is a new one for you, that’s not surprising. Most American drivers are commuters or sports enthusiasts. Hino is Japans leading truck manufacturer. How they got there is interesting. In 1942 Hino Heavy Industry Co., Ltd, split from Diesel Motor Industry Co., and dropped ‘heavy’ from their name after WWII. A few years after than they began to focus on their diesel truck and bus production. Now they’re totally owned by Toyota.

Memorial Day at the Kicker

Many things in America have become more about their celebration than their meaning. With Christmas, for example, we’ve heard folks complain about the crass commercialism of it for decades. Likewise many holidays have become simply a four-day weekend. Since Memorial Day is clearly about not forgetting something important, let’s take a shot at remembering what it means.

Originally celebrated May 30 regardless of the day of the week it fell on, Memorial Day is now pegged to the last Monday in May. It’s a day set aside by act of congress to honor Military service men and women who died in active duty.

Controversy

A few decades ago, historians and cultural anthropologist were almost annoyingly accepting of different cultures and different eras. They got very clinical when discussing cannibals or more violent times in the distant past of Easter and Western culture. Now days, we rush to judge those who do things in a manner other than our own. We deem it unenlightened.

This intolerance of other cultures and our own past has made many holidays “problematic.” Is there potential for controversy with Memorial Day? Sure is. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial day was born after Civil War (war between the states if you’re my grandma).

As early as 1860, people had begun to visit the graves of fallen soldiers in the spring to decorate them with flowers and say a pray over them. When the war ended in spring of 1865, it had claimed more American lives than any other conflict in US history, so it seems natural that the tradition took hold on both sides of the conflict. It was the Civil War that caused the first federal cemetery to be built.

Decoration Day

The practice of mourning solders in the spring seems to have sprung up spontaneously around the country in towns and cities of every size. Earliest recorded celebrations were in the south starting as soon as a month after the wars end. One in Charleston, South Carolina, was organized by a group of former slaves. In 1868 General John A. Logan called for a Decoration Day. There are records showing that Northern Cities embraced the practice by 1890.

Warrenton, Virginia, Savannah, Georgia, Jackson Mississippi, Columbus Georgia and Columbus Mississippi all began decorating graves in Spring around the same time in the America South. Of course Gettysburg lays some claim to the practice since Abraham Lincoln gave one of the most moving speeches of all time when he commemorated the graves there.

It was likely World War 1 and 2 that generalized the practice to include all armed services personal who died during war time and not just specific to the civil war.

In 1966, the fedral government declared Waterloo, New York the birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo had celebrated May 5th consistently since 1866, including the modern practice of closing business for the entire day.

Recent History of Memorial Day

It didn’t become a national Holiday until 1971. Many Americans observe the holiday by visiting cemeteries or memorials, gather as families, or participating in parades.

Side Note: It’s the unofficial beginning of summer.

The official remembrance part of memorial day is at 3 PM in each time zone, often marked with a moment of silence.

Memorial Day is for remembering those fallen in battle (or at least during active war.) There is also Veterans Day on November 11, which honors those who served–living or dead. Then there is the lesser known Armed Services Day which unofficially honors those currently serving in the military.

Most years there are Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery dating back to 1868. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is more often a location of ceremony on November 11th Veterans day. There are also ceremonies most years at the Vietnam War Memorial.

Memorial Day and Cars

This site exists to provide useful information to car enthusiasts and commuters, but we’ve been huge supporters of veterans since the beginning.

If we ignore the obvious Memorial Day connection to cars–the massive sales that go on that weekend–we are left with parades. You can ride a horse or march in a procession down a parade route but one of the most stylish, and easy on the feet, ways to participate in a parade is to ride in a convertible car with it’s top down.

Many parades involve floats which are motorized vehicles built onto a frame and motor. Some floats are decorated tractors, trucks or even golf carts. Most are purpose built. Most parade floats are self propelled although some are towed, usually by tractor or horse. Of course the goal of a float is to give the illusion that it’s floating on the surface street like a ship on the sea (hence the name). Therefore the vehicle is entirely covered by some kind of decoration.

Regardless of the base vehicle inside the float it must be heavily modified. For one thing, floats don’t need to go fast and do need to go very slow without stalling for long periods of time. So extra gears boxes are often required to make first gear smooth at 2.5 miles per hour. Extra radiators are added so the engine doesn’t overheat running low and slow for several hours. Finally the tires are filled with foam so they wont’ get a flat during the parade.

Many floats are large enough to require a second driver in a second cockpit to steer around blind corners. Also most floats are two level so a deck must be built by welding together steel tubing.

If there are animatronics, like arms or elevators, then hydraulics are employed to make the motion smoother. That means cylinders and pumps all driven off a second engine. You’ll also need a complex array of valves and a computer to control them. You’ll need gauges, manual controls, and of course monitors to see what the animatronics are doing.

Floats are considered moving sculptures and receive permits to use roadways that are event by event specific. Floats must gather in a location near the beginning and end of the route which takes a lot of logistics. Most parade organizers hire professionals to inspect floats prior to their use to avoid injuring an operator, passenger or observer along the route. Of course almost as bad as injury is a breakdown that causes a delay mid route.

As a rule, parade floats aren’t used more than once, although parts are salvaged and reused in future designs. Often floats are viewed before and after the parade in special display locations, before being towed back to the place they were built so they may be dismantled.

There is a National Memorial Day Parade that takes place along Constitution Ave.