Campers and Adaptions

If you wish to take to the open road a camper is a great option as you are not hampered by locating a suitable hotel every night. You can stay a lot of places, but officially, it’s advisable to sleep in a registered camp site It’s safer, and has a few amenities like showers and shore power, maybe even a place to empty your wastewater. Of course, if you got too tired to drive, in a pinch you could pull off at a Walmart and park overnight.

Well Known US Campers

Any talk of campers wouldn’t be complete without mention of Winnebagos. Winnebagos have been going since 1958 and have variants such as Journey, Farza, Adventurer and Vista.

Vista, for example, is a four-person Winny with two double beds, toilet and even a shower.

The Winnebago Solis is for more glamorous camping, what with its insulated walls and a plumbed-in wet bathroom. For this design it has a sleeping sofa rather than the usual bunk area.

Well Known European Campers

1961 Bedford Dormobile

Alternately, would you choose a European model like a Dormobile? The Dormobile company started in 1956, just after the VW camper known as “The Camper Box.”

The Dormobile had an estate car roof (AKA a sunshine roof) which could be extended to give two extra berths.

There have been conversions of Land Rovers by a Colorado company into campers but they aren’t Dormobiles themselves.

The reason Dormobile created campers is because they were exempt from purchase tax as long as they had cookers and the most basic washing machines.

The Dormobile had a lifting roof that was side-hinged, slightly resembling a Jack-in-the-box. It was made of a plastic canopy sometimes with red stripes, the top had two windows for ventilation. The inside looked reminiscent of the curve of a wheel’s spokes with two large poles or struts keeping the structure. It allowed for an extra meter of interior space even if it’s only purpose was to sleep in.

Before putting the roof down, you had to remove the mattresses from the bunks, otherwise the roof wouldn’t fit right. It sounds awkward, but no doubt you got used to it.

Another plus point was the 4-wheel drive which is unusual in a camper. It was definitely designed as a vehicle which was not afraid to go off road. This could come as a surprise given its streamlined shape.

Conversions

With enough money you can convert vans and SUVs into campervans. There are two ways to do this-one is to just use the space as is, the second is to create an “extension” part like an overhanging caravan, also known as a pop-up.

Though the first of these is easier and creates less disruption you will be hard pressed to find a place to fit in a bathroom! What you end up with is a table and chair area in the back which can be turned into a flatbed at night.

When creating a conversion use lightweight materials. Because of the need to store away tables/chairs/mattresses the active storage space is only available when its being used to camp in not when packed up to travel.

But as conversion is so complicated, most people tend to like the specialized vans. After all, why mess with mid-century design? And if you don’t like vintage, choose an up-to-date version.

The Road Bridge – An Underestimated Form

Although many drivers think of bridges as a way to travel between point A and B some of them are worth visiting for their own sake. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco for example.

The Golden Gate connects the San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Bay. A one-mile construction, it was overseen by Joseph Strauss in 1917 but not opened until 1937. It was both the longest and tallest suspension bridge at the time.

Another US bridge which was the largest bridge for its day was the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, unlike the Golden Gate this is a mixture of cable and suspension bridge. Plans were brewing since 1800 for a bridge to connect Brooklyn with the rest of the city. In this case, Roebling with the main engineer, starting with the caissons or platforms for the suspension towers, building the suspension towers themselves and then finally the “road” part of the bridge.

Choosing Joseph Strauss to oversee the bridge was a strange choice as he had no experience or understanding in how to create such a large-scale project, eventually he decided to work from the designs of Leon Moissoiff with Irving Morrow acting as the architect.

In order to get shipping to negotiate under the East River viaducts had to be built on both sides of the bridge. Despite the years of discussion and planning, the bridge was only opened in 1883.

There are more modern bridges which are worth commenting on, such as the Øresund Bridge which opened in 2000, designed for both for road and rail to travel between Sweden and Demark. It runs to Peberholm which is an island in the middle of Øresund Strait. The rest of the journey uses a tunnel.

It has this strange arrangement because a longer bridge would interfere with air traffic from Copenhagen.

The idea for a bridge in this region was planned ever since 1910. Peberholm is a nature reserve. The tunnel consists of two tubes for the railway and two larger tubes as well as well as a smaller emergency tunnel.

There are similar bridge-tunnels in the US such as Chesapeake Bay, Virginia connects Northampton County with Virginia Beach. Hampton Reeds and between Monitor and Merrimas. Many intercontinental railways have their own bridge-tunnels.

A twin sail bridge created in Dorset for road traffic uses double bascules. The two “leaves” open by hydraulic system. It takes two minutes to open. Although it has a similar form to Tower Bridge the use of sails makes for a perhaps more iconic look.

The Uruguay bridge is a circular ring-shaped bridge designed for a mass amount of traffic. The heightened curve slows the car down. There are a number of pedestrian crossings allowing those not in cars or motorbike to negotiate its interesting design.

The Eshoma Ohashi bridge is a bit of a talking point as it goes up at 45 degrees – or so it appears. It’s actually an optical illusion, its rise is nowhere near as steep.

The Dragon Bridge, Da Nang has wonderful selling points, breathes fire at the weekends. It is also lit up in the evenings.

Leonel Viera Bridge

The Leonel Viera Bridge  is a stressed ribbon bridge linking the cities of Punta del Este and La Barra across the Maldonado River [es] in southern Uruguay

Wikipedia

Roads will always need to bridge the gap, so there will be plenty of opportunity in creating innovative designs out there. 

Truck Stops

Trick Stops began in the 1940s, though many have been rebranded as Travel Centers. Their main purpose is to provide a secure stopping off point as well as access to fuel.

Although there are supposed to be secure they don’t have the best reputation in the world, especially at night. It’s advisable to drive slow around the premises and not go against the direction of the traffic. When you park it’s best to back in and pull out.

Other pieces of advice…

  • Inspect your vehicle every time you leave
  • To watch out for potential scammers around the place – is someone offering you something which seems too amazing to be true?
  • Keep to the well-lit areas.

Although truck stops will have huge parking spaces it is vital to park your wagon in the right place. Many drivers needlessly crowd the gas station region, so don’t be one of those.

Large chains like Flying J, and Loves often have an app for truckers to help guide you along the correct roads in the truck stop.

A number of truck stops don’t have the best reputation. It’s generally agreed to commit to a specific chain. Some truckers go for places with the best value fuel, either the cheapest base price or through a cash back program.

Other Amenities

Another consideration is access to food. Some truck-drivers could look for specialty diners, especially if they have dietary requisites, while others don’t necessarily want a premium diner, preferring somewhere that is open 24/7 and passes all food hygiene specifications.

Moving onto more detailed attributes, these may include medical services, dental services, even items like churches and casinos, even a cinema. (Some of these are just a TV projector in a rest room though).

You may want someone to wash your truck or deal with repairs and there may be people at the truck stop who can do that. Some may allow you to take advantage of their free showers. As with anything it is vital to shop around.

Some drivers look for something else in their truck stop such as easy access from the freeway and cheap prices. There is something for everyone if you research a bit.

The biggest truck stop in the US is the Iowa 80 which even has things such as a gift shop, museum as well as a truck showroom. It has been in operation since 1964.

Covid Update

Note that some things have changed at truck stops since the advent of the Coronavirus, they are shutting down all but essential business here, that is food and fuel. Some restaurants may close at 9 and they have removed refillable mugs; there may be a limit to the number of customers who enter the cafe and the removal of buffets. Driver’s rooms may also be closed.

At these times you may find the toilet area is dirtier than usual due to lack of cleaners. This is why it is vital to use sanitizers and soap.

Unfortunately, a number of quarantined drivers are still working on the road. If you are still working while quarantining then it is vital that you stay away from public areas as much as possible, for instance taking advantage of drive throughs.

Stay safe and stay healthy during the pandemic—drink plenty of water, vitamin C, D, and Zinc. Get plenty of rest.

Link to article about mask requirements at Truck Stops

Gifts for Race Enthusiasts

How can you treat your car-mad acquaintances for Christmas? Many people spoil their loved ones with racing car events and supercar events, especially those who love pistons and adrenaline. Use any gift vouchers quickly, even if they may be valid for several months. As with all gift cards, racing gift cards cannot be exchanged for cash.

Another sticking point is to make sure you can use the voucher locally, some of these vouchers are designed to be used in several places around a specific state or even nationally, so have a venue in mind. Many racing tracks allow you to experience racing cars of various vintages; even off-road driving is possible.

Before you can start driving you will need to show a driving license. If you book a time for your drive and wish to change it you could have to pay an admin fee. It’s always dependent on how close you are to the event whether you can alter the date. They tend to supply you with racing gear-but this doesn’t tend to include sensible shoes.

For those who want to continue beyond a single day could look into obtaining seasonal passes, becoming what used to be known as a “gentleman driver” or a “lady driver,” that is, a non-professional one. If your budget is in the four figures you could look into training to drive a speedster over several days. Usually, insurance is included in such activity, but it’s best to check.

It’s not essential for a trainer to be with you in the vehicle, indeed NASCAR trains people via a radio device. For those who only drive on the main roads it can be hard to become accustomed to driving on a track, especially racing at fast speeds on long periods. A trained racing driver may be on hand to assist you in increasing your timings, even if many drivers seem to prefer riding without the instructors. Due to the layout of most racing cars, especially Formula One types, it may be impossible to carry any sort of teacher or passenger.

Not all of these driving experiences are the same; some allow you to pass the slowcoaches on the track, some do not.

For those who don’t want to race there are opportunities to be a passenger on supercars or racing cars. There may be sticking points if you are above average weight or height in fitting in a racing car, it’s best to check these things beforehand.

The look of racetracks can vary. A drag strip is a length of track to test acceleration of vehicles. Other tracks are ovals or “figure eights”. If you are going round in a circle track you will begin and end your journey in the pitstop or the pits. But there are so many terms in driving you will find it hard to remember them all.

Hopefully, you will be able to enjoy your race day in perfect health. Have a great Christmas as well.

How to Prepare for a Road Trip: Holiday Edition

With an end to the pandemic nowhere in sight, families are turning to road trips to give themselves a break from the stress of their daily lives. Vacations involving airports and hotels are not feasible, or even considered safe at the moment. So, families are deciding to pack up their car and drive to a vacation spot that is within reach.

If going on a road trip sounds like just what your stressed out, quarantined family needs, you are in luck. Below, we discuss, in detail, everything you need to do to prepare for a road trip. All you’ll have to do is pick where you want to go (if it’s not to visit family)!

Get Your Car Checked

The first thing you’ll have to do before your road trip, and perhaps the most important, is to take your car in to get checked. Whichever car you choose to take on the trip needs to be strong and reliable. Take your car in to a shop that you trust. Make sure they change your oil and top off your fluids, rotate your tires and check your brakes. Let the mechanic checking your car know that you are going on a road trip and ask him to do a diagnostic check to make sure everything else is running smoothly. If you’re sure your car is well serviced, consider calling a mobile inspection service, who can verify there isn’t anything wrong in a place you wouldn’t normally thing to check.

On your end, make sure to check the dates that your registration and inspection expire. If they are close, consider renewing your car registration papers and getting your car inspected while you are at the shop. Additionally, you will need to make sure your car insurance is updated and active. It may also be helpful to join a roadside assistance service like AAA before you leave in case something goes wrong on the road.

Clean Before and During Your Trip

Since you will be spending a lot of time in your car, it is necessary to clean it well before embarking on your adventure. Before leaving, complete a thorough clean on your whole vehicle, inside and out. Use proper cleaning fluids to wipe down the dashboard and console, removing any little crumbs as best as you can. A different cleaner can be used to wipe down the seats of your car. The right cleaner will both clean and condition the fabric. Driving in a clean car will improve your mental health and have you feeling less overwhelmed or claustrophobic.

Consider hiring a detailer. This sounds a bit much, but they’re not busy in the winter and might be surprisingly affordable. Think of it as a practical Christmas gift to yourself given the amount of time you’ll be inside your car.

Once you get driving, it is vital to try to maintain the cleanliness of your car as much as possible. A lot of people in a confined space tend to make a mess quickly. So, do a clean out of the trash every time you stop at a rest stop or get gas. Try to remind your kids to keep their personal space tidy.  Seat back organizers are great for helping kids to keep their space organized. No matter how you figure it out, try your best to stay on top of the mess in your car. It will help keep you, and your family, sane.

Prepare A Loose Itinerary

Before leaving, take some time to come up with a loose itinerary for your trip. All of your stops do not have to be rest stops and fast-food restaurants. Take the time to do some research and find a few interesting places to stop along the way to your final destination. Beautiful scenic lookouts, delicious diners, and interesting museums my lie along your general route. Plan them into your trip to expand your experiences and give your family a more well-rounded trip.

It’s proven fact that incorporating these kinds of activities to break up the monotony of a drive can allow you to arrive fresher at your destination. As an added bonus, you can arrive at a good time instead of 10 o’clock at night when your in-laws thought you were going to make it for dinner. Just add a day to the itinerary and make each leg of the journey less hectic.

While planning can help your trip run smoothly and be more interesting, there is also a fine line between not enough planning and too much. No plan or itinerary will make your trip seem boring, but over planning and trying too hard to stick to a schedule makes your trip seem hectic and stressful. This is the opposite of what a vacation is supposed to do. So, do yourself a favor and only plan a few extra stops along the way. Keep in mind, if there are more places you’d like to stop, you can always add a few stops on your way home.

The Easiest and Most Common Mistakes

The key mistake most people make when they don’t road trip often, is planning around gas stations or not planning enough around gas stations. Figure out how far your car goes between fill-ups and locate places with gas stations near the road. Don’t plan on running your tank nearly dry because sometimes stations are closed for remodeling. No sense pushing your luck.

Final Thoughts

A road trip may be just the thing you and your family need to escape life for a few days. Often, when you live a ways from family you spend all your vacation time traveling to see them. Consider taking the scenic route to at least give yourself some time off in this high stress year.

While a road trip is less involved than flying or using other types of transportation, a little bit of planning can go a long way to make your trip a success. At the bare minimum, follow the steps above, and you will eliminate a lot of stress and anxiety from your trip to that you can enjoy yourself as much as possible.

Virtual Car Shows for the 2020 Season

With the onset of the pandemic, all in-person, large events have been postponed or cancelled. As upsetting as this is, there are alternatives to these large events. Most companies and businesses have transferred their events to the internet so that people all over the world can still attend, in a way.

If you are a regular at car shows in your area, you are in luck this season. Some of the biggest car shows this year have modified their events to be online. While this may seem like a bummer, it is actually quite a positive. Having these great car shows online gives you the chance to visit shows out of your area that you normally would have to travel many miles to go to. Another perk is that if you missed these events you can still take in a lot of the action even if its less excited recorded than live. We’ll do our best to update this list when the 2021 event calendars are announced, but these links should take you to the 2021 event as soon as those are announced.

Good Guys Rod and Custom Association

The first virtual car show on our list is from the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. This show, that typically takes place in Pleasanton, California, features categories for hot rods, tricked out trucks, and muscle cars, among others. This association has multiple virtual car shows on different days, so make sure to check the events calendar when you get to their website.  These events also have a schedule of events, so if you aren’t interested in watching the entire car show, you can log in for the categories that you want to see.

NASCAR Ford Performance: Virtual Speedway

The NASCAR Ford Performance Virtual Speedway is a virtual performance car show. This show is sponsored by NASCAR and focuses on Ford vehicles. This virtual car show is a playlist of YouTube videos that showcase different aspects of different Ford vehicles. This is a great virtual car show for someone that wants to see cars actually driving as opposed to cars sitting still. This playlist has the ability to keep you occupied for a long time. It consists of almost 200 video clips for you to enjoy.

Gilmore Car Museum: Hickory Corners, Michigan

The Gilmore Car Museum, located in Hickory Corners, Michigan, was established in the 1960s.  It began as a private collection of vintage vehicles by Donald S. Gilmore and grew into a larger collection as he continued to acquire cars. Eventually, his collection was so vast, he had to purchase 90 acres of land in Michigan to accommodate it. Eventually, Gilmore and his wife decided to turn his collection into a museum that opened to the public in 1966. This year, the Gilmore Car Museum decided to create a virtual overview of all their vintage cars for you to peruse. This is a great opportunity to see a quality vintage collection for free.

The Petersen Museum’s Global Cars & Coffee Show

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California has hosted a free Cars and Coffee event once a month for the past eight years. When COVID-19 hit, the museum did not want to cancel their long-standing tradition. Holding this event virtually has allowed the Petersen Museum to host cars from all over the world in their virtual show. Those who wish to participate submit a video of their car where they explain the key features and history of their vehicle. These virtual shows are still happening once a month online.  heck the Museum’s website for the date and time of their latest show.

Dub Magazine: Dub Show Worldwide

Dub Magazine is another car show that has taken their operation virtual due to COVID-19. Their virtual car show Dub Show Worldwide takes submissions in multiple different categories. Browse vehicles in categories like Lifted Jeeps, Lowriders, and Motorcycles. Each vehicle in their virtual event has a place where it can be liked by those who visit the show. At the end of a certain period of time, likes are tallied, and the vehicle with the most likes in each category is placed in their winners’ circle.

If you are a car enthusiast, you don’t have to miss out completely on car shows for the 2020 season. In fact, since submissions are easier, attending virtual events could give you exposure to more cars from all over the world. If the events listed above aren’t what you have in mind and you’d like a closer look at the cars, there is an alternative. Some virtual car shows are just picture images from multiple angles of the cars so that you can zoom in and really see the details of each car closely.

Top Car Shows That Should Be On Your Bucket List

Whether you love Ford, Chevy, or just want to see the latest automotive advances, a car show is the place to be. You will be able to see and possibly test drive the newest models and get the first glimpse of the latest concept vehicles. Car shows are fun, exciting, and even educational and you can be a part of it.

Here are our picks for the top U.S. car shows automotive enthusiasts will want to attend.

Top 5 U.S. Car Shows

1. Woodward Dream Cruise

Typically held in mid-August, Michigan’s Woodward Dream Cruise is the largest single-day event in the world. Held appropriately on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, over 25,000 hot-rods, along with classic and muscle cars are proudly shown off by their owners.

Whether you own a vehicle to enter in the parade or just love to look at a piece of automotive history, the day-long event is something everyone should experience at least once in their life.

2. The North American International Auto Show

Detroit, Michigan is home to the North American International Auto Show. If you’re curious about what next year’s models will look like or what concepts are in development, this is the place to be.

You can also catch some great concerts at the auto show, along with see which company takes home the award for ‘truck of the year’. If you’re interested in attending the auto show, it’s usually held at the beginning of June.

3. Bonneville Speed Week

If luxury isn’t important but speed is, head out to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah. During August, vintage cars take over the salt flats looking to see which vehicle is fastest, along with trying to beat previously set top speed records.

The week-long racing event has been held annually since 1949 and it is still the largest. Teams race everything from roadsters, hot roads, and motorcycles, to belly tankers, streamliners, and lakesters. Every type of vehicle can be seen during speed week.

4. Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance

If you prefer luxury to speed and salt flats, Pebble Beach, in California, welcomes the world’s top luxury car models each year in August. The car show doesn’t just draw in luxury automobile lovers, but celebrities and some of the richest people in the world also attend.

Along with being able to see these fabulous cars, you can also get into the bidding. Vehicles are auctioned for large sums of money, and even if you don’t enter the auction it’s still fun to see what some of these rare luxury vehicles sell for.

5. The SEMA Show

November is when the Las Vegas Convention Center usually hosts the annual SEMA Show. The acronym for the Specialty Equipment Market Association, you can expect to see over 2,000 exhibits showcasing new components, parts, and tools. Everything an automotive mechanic or car enthusiast needs to keep their vehicle running and looking great.

Product demonstrations and educational seminars will also be held. Don’t forget about the after-party where you can mingle with celebrities and see award-winning custom automobiles.

Get Your Vehicle Ready for the Show

Whether you want to show off your vehicle or just make it there safely, there are a few things you need to do. After all, the last thing you want when showing off your ride is for there to be a problem under the hood. This also applies if you’re just planning on driving to the car show.

It’s often the little things that drivers forget, and these are the ones that can cause the biggest problems. Check your oil and other fluid levels. Think about the last time you had the oil changed, how long ago was that? Depending on the type of motor oil, you can go as long as 15,000 miles but this only applies to synthetic blends.

Consider having a professional inspection, the kicker always recommends Tire Kickers, but we’re biased—they sponsor us.

Checking the little things on your vehicle will help ensure you make it to the car show and if you’ve entered your vehicle it’ll be ready to impress the crowds.

Behind the Scenes of Car Stunts (Part 2)

The previous article discussed story-boarding stunts. After this phase the stunt coordinator takes over. But what exactly is a stunt coordinator? Well they can be thought of as the director of stunts–they coordinate, cast, and choreograph. As you might guess, they usually worked as a stuntman before becoming a coordinator.

Rémy Juliannne is a typical example of a stunt driver turned coordinator. He started his professional life as a rally cross driver and a motocross driver. He has now been in 1,400 films including James Bond and Italian Job. He also teaches other stunt drivers. 1,400 folks! How many actors can make that claim?

The car stunt coordinator works with the crew and cameramen to line up the correct camera shots. Even when everything is planned in minute detail things can still go wrong. And “go wrong” has two definitions:

1) you have to repeat a very expensive shot.
2) Someone get’s hurt.

Someone gets Hurt:

That’s not to say there’s no choreography or some mechanical rigging to make a car stunt as safe as possible. A fit stuntman also increases the likelihood they will survive the stunt, even if there are injuries to the body.

When creating a truck roll as seen in Mad Max 2 a gigantic cage was built into the cab and as a precaution an ambulance was on standby. For stunts as dangerous as this, stuntmen don’t eat for a day in case of operations. All that happened to the stuntman after this was a dirty face, bizarrely enough.

What many people may not know is that custom engineered safety feature from stunt coordinators actually inspires safety features in cars that are commercially sold. If you have airbags in your vehicle you can thank the stunt industry.

Equipment also changes:

The French film C’etuit un Rendezvous used video cameras instead of film cameras to follow stunt drivers as they went mad on the streets of Paris. At least using a Mercedes meant that the handling was as fine as it could be. Cameras mounted on the hood also assisted with the overall effect.

More Technically Difficult Stunts

The harder the stunt, the more precision is needed. Most cars cannot be turned 360° in mid-air, but the Chevrolet Sonic can—with a little special engineering. A ball-like scaffold created the effect. A similar stunt was achieved using an AMC Hornet.

To flip a Mini you need to get an angle of 37° and still might not be easy. Think about it, is the goal to get a full revolution, to land on your roof, to land on your tires…either way you are rigging the Mini up with some kind of cage.

Using Regular Streets

Beyond the obvious step of getting permits and shutting down regular traffic, you can add the step of simulating traffic with cars driven by stunt people. Of course, the stunt coordinator must examine the surfaces to ensure that they are more than roadworthy. A test track or a controlled sound studio won’t change a lot between filming one scene and another, but a road could have random damage the night before filming.

The ultimate stunt drivers can use the streets of San Francisco for suitably hilly stunts involving a number of chicanes, and negotiating streetcars and cones with a number of 180° turns as well as jumps.

A stunt in 2009 involved jumping from the beach onto a barge. It used a Subaru STi and took place on the Long Beach on Los Angeles. The difficulty in the stunt is not to crash into the barge.

Sexism or Practicality

There’s a great deal of talk about “wigging” in the industry where a stuntman does the stunt which should have been done by a woman. There’s probably no winning this debate because there are more stunt men in the business than women. I the golden era of cinema, when an actress fell off a horse and was drug out of scene, you put a man in a wig and drug him behind the horse.

Now, there are more stunt women and really no good reason why a woman couldn’t drive a stunt as well or better than a male counterpart. By the same token, there’s a lot less effort in disguising a drivers gender inside a car during a stunt so there’s really no reason to intentionally pick one gender over another regardless of the sex of the character that’s supposed to be driving. Naturally this creates a bit of contention.

The truth is there’s no stunt register in the US, so the only way a stunt man or woman to gets ahead is to know the right person. So, there’s no way to prove that bias isn’t applied, and no easy way to attempt to fix the situation. On the upside, Hollywood has a reputation of being forward thinking and as more female stunt drivers enter the business, you’ll likely see plenty of jobs available for them. Only time will tell for sure.

It’s that a person who wants to drive through fire will always have employment, though he or she might not have time to enjoy the beauty of the vehicle?

Behind the Scenes of Car Stunts – Part One.

Any stunt devised begins with an idea. If it’s stunt for a film it must work with the story so even if it is altered for safety reasons it must make sense for the character or situation. Of course the car doesn’t always fit the star, sometimes it’s about product placement but the intention is to get something that you might believe the character could conceivably drive.

An example of a stunt fitting the plot is the car roll in Casino Royale. A car must go out of control and roll a couple of times but also avoid the person tied up. We don’t blink at this when the action hero gets himself this type of situation—but this is M. Would our desk jockey drive fast enough to lose control? Sure, if the emotion is high anyone can drive unwisely, but would M own a car that is likely to do it? So, if the director wants the stunt, he/she must show why M is upset and why M grabs someone else’s car.

From the stunt coordinators standpoint. If M drives a large, luxury, or classic car (true to the character) there’s a better chance that an out of control car would roll. So if the movie goes that way challenges like slower acceleration and less than performance breaking require a few cheats. It may sound silly but movies sometimes pour a few thousand dollars into car so that it can be safely destroyed in a wreck.

Stunt People are Also Actors:

It needn’t necessarily be the action hero, it could be the getaway driver or a bumbling incompetent, but how the car moves should show that. This is where the next stage of the production comes in. The stunt driver must drive the car in the manor that fits the character and the scene.

From a technical standpoint, stunt coordinators sit into meetings with the screenplay writer earlier in the process than most people would guess. The stunt moves need to be planned with the storyboard artist. Although the storyboard artist tends to agree with what the screenplay writer says, they will be more likely to look int how the car, tank or whatever, moves in certain conditions. Some stunts must be conducted at separate locations so that weather and crowds are controlled. Research at this point can head off problems further along the line.

From scribbles they come up with something more coherent—a plan to prepare for each stunt to be filmed. It helps them to watch other films with stunts to see how they do it. It’s usual practice to have a library on how each vehicle reacts in certain circumstances. You may believe that one SUV works the same as another SUV but it doesn’t, some are easier to handle, some might work easier around chicanes. You can see through footage or though attempting it (with the correct level of safety applied, it should be added).

Movie Storyboards

It’s important to plan the stunts during the storyboard phase. In many ways it’s easier to show action on a storyboard rather than a script. The only missing elements are actually filming, adding the soundtrack and dialogue, which will be assigned later.

The storyboard artist different devises to clearly represent the action. Instead of using a HB pencil on these drawings they use a 3B which is softer. (Would a hard pencil be good for showing night time stunts? Like a 3H for instance? Possibly).

The Lawyers

You probably think you know what a car stunt is, but the actual definition is a car negotiating unfamiliar territory. Simply driving at high speed, driving slowly through a crowd, or parking in a tight space are considered stunt for the movie industry. It’s obvious when you really think about it. Lets not assume that an actor can parallel park shall we? Not when we can have a professional driver do it and then film the actor getting out of the car.

The harder the stunt the more precision is needed. There will be a number of reworkings of the stunt plan to go through before eventually talking to the lawyers. Many manufacturers don’t wish to show their product acting in a dubious way. It takes a huge amount of PR to bring a stunt to the screen. Do you want your sports car associated with mob hit men? It gets you attention the first time your luxury car gets rolled into a building, after the 3rd movie does it you could get a reputation.

Stay tuned for part two where we’ll go into detail into specific stunts and the best practices in order to bring the stunt to the screen. It takes a huge amount of effort to make the car the true hero of the silver screen.

African Cars

Africa is a hard continent for the outsider to get your head round. It might seem like one great country but it is many different states and colonies with their own individual way of doing things. It contains more variety from one tip to the other than North America does.

While it enjoys a reputation of being “untapped” it’s also not the first place to come to mind when thinking of profitable markets. It’s fair to say that, as a whole, it’s a low-income market. There are only 44 vehicles for each of the 1000 inhabitants, and they seem obsessed with used cars. It’s a developing market, especially for cars, but this might be the wrong way to look.

South Africa

The country of South Africa looks at its car industry as a success story. Despite being only 6.9% of the nation’s GDP they have solid sales, both in exports and local. These includes names such as BMW, Toyota, Nissan and so on. One company that has pulled out is General Motors, to concentrate purely on the American market. This is not the beginning of a mass exodus though–the other factories seem stable at time of writing.

Car and truck manufacture have a long-standing heritage here since the 1920s. Symbiotic manufacturing is also thriving, there are a number of component factories such as Bloxwitch and Arvin Exhaust. In total over 200 different component businesses are based in South Africa and growing. The provinces of Eastern Cape and Gautenay is the center of auto manufacturing, including cars for the US market, making this the Detroit of South Africa.

Given the US car Industry’s need for period bail out, it might seem that the industry wouldn’t exist without a strong government program supporting it. Many countries overtly subsidize auto manufacture (also known as industry under license from the government). This won’t be seen in South Africa, where 85% of all car sales on the continent take place. Investment is critical in 2020, perhaps more so than ever.

Are there other countries with an auto industry?

Yes, car companies invest in Morocco, Egypt and Algeria. They also seem to be looking into more developing countries like Kenya, where Toyota has a presence and Algeria where although Renault seem to the main player there is also investment from VW, Peugot, Hyandai and Nissan, among others. The Algerian government vocalized ideas of “planning to double” the total employment in the region.

Elsewhere in the continent VW are looking at developing an Uber-like business in Rwanda. Because most cars aren’t new it makes sense to look at the rented car industry as an alternative.

Is there a trend?

It’s worth noting that Renault was the only car manufacturer in Morocco up until 2019 when Peugot arrived. Given how close it is to Spain, it’s a cheaper place build cars that car be shipped back to a European Market. These tentative movements have brought great economic increase to the entire region of Northern Africa and heralded positive change, or at least that’s how it looked before our current situation.

It might be that other companies join General Motors in abandoning the continent. Unless markets pick it won’t make sense for car companies to manufacture more the local market needs, which won’t have the same drastic impact on the local economy. The governments need the car companies if Africa is ever going to alter. It’s not hopeless, it just needs a bit of creative thinking, and some hope. We could all use some hope right about now.