A New Decade of Cars

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Jag XJ

It’s difficult at the start of a new decade to see what exactly the selling patterns and trends might be going forward. The apparent answer from marketers can be seen in cars like the Mustang Mach-E and the BMW i4. Although manufacturers obviously research into what makes a car popular, they will ultimately only know how the public feels when they walk into a show room (or tiptoe through a website.

But what do the next batch of cars say about what automakers guess will be the trends?

Apparently in developing a 2021 Mach-E, Ford sees their future as trying to get the best of both their sports car past and their SUV present. Reinforcing this is Ford’s all-electric Mustang, no doubt designed for people nostalgic about the original vehicles. As they say in the video below, if you want to drag race after you drop the kids at soccer, this is the car for you.

Jaguar is planning a XJ for 2021 which will be a type of sedan. As something of a departure they are marketing it as all-electric and the ability to charge itself as a fast rate.

The plans for Mercedes Benz seem a bit more, shall we say pedestrian? Well, how else could you describe an entry level Merc? Despite this they seem to be in favor of keeping the same amount of luxury in the C-class if reducing the price. They also have additional touchscreens in the vehicle.

For 2022 BMW is looking into creating an electric car in the style of sedan with similarities to the Tesla. It shouldn’t be regarded as that suspicious that the BMW 3 series will be outflanked by the M3 and M4 which have an inline-six engine (this is an engine with all its cylinders along a common crankshaft in a straight line).

Another make which seems to be going the way of an SUV is the Chevrolet. The Tahoe will see a change in the styling in the front and the back suspension will make it drive more like a car than a pickup.

One name you might not associate with SUVs is Ferrari, but this may change in 2022 which currently has the working name of “Purosangue”. though it’s difficult to tell you much more than that.

What you might not have heard of yet is an e-tron. An e-tron is a range of sports vehicles made by Audi in the style of an SUV and those in the know reckon they will be big in 2021. The big selling point will be “self-determined mobility” (i.e. using the technology to make the driving experience easier.)

The Kicker has been showing you Rivian for quite a while, BUT if you have been hiding under a rock, but it turns out this is the type of brand both Amazon and Ford are banking on. The idea is to start with a basic shape and adapt it to different electric vehicles. There are plans for a pickup to be on sale for late 2020, as an alternative to the Cybertruck by Tesla.

Due to their recent emission scandal many experts assumed that VW would move to selling electric vehicles but that hasn’t happened, though there are plans for something called an ID Crozz in 2020. This is also believed to be a competitor to the Tesla.

At the moment it’s hard to see definite trends, but the smart money would bet on Electric and SUV.

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The Chemical Composition of a Car

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The purpose for examining the Chemical Composition of a Car is to search out ways to make cars safer, lighter, stronger etc. Anything a car company learns from such investigation then goes through a lengthy analysis but does eventually result in improvements to the vehicle itself or to the manufacture process—but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Shell:

A car is mostly steel, which is an alloy (not just a compound) of mainly iron and carbon. The difference between a compound and an alloy isn’t terribly technical. Compounds are two or more elements combined by whatever means, that bond chemically to form a new substance. Think of it more like baking a cake, where the results are not only more than the sum of the parts, but the entire nature of whole is transformed into something new. An alloy, on the other hand, results from introducing metals of different kinds into a molten steel. The effect is to produce something that is fundamentally the same as it would have been, except that it takes on properties from the foreign element. Think of it like adding high carbon steel to low carbon steel to produce a sword that in not brittle but is hard enough to hold an edge.

Steel is used for low cost as well as being resistant to corrosion. A car also contains an amount of aluminium which has steadily increased in price in recent decades. One main reason for price hikes in aluminium is the large amount of electricity used in it’s manufacture. More expensive renewable energy, plus more things (like cars) that run on electricity causes the price to skyrocket. Using aluminium is an attempt to make the car as light as it can be.

The shell of a car undergoes a phosphorous acid bath. Phosphorous acid is a compound of phosphorous, hydrogen and oxygen (all acids contain hydrogen, by the way). Although not the safest chemical to use it is has been granted Safer Choice Criteria, meaning that it is currently the lesser of the available evils.

Fuel:

Gas and engine oil is made of hydrocarbons which enter the environment as a result of car usage. The current thinking is that the best way to reduce gas emissions is to employ solar energy or electric power, but many European countries have invested in “clean diesel,” which is less processed than car gas and contains more energy. But again such an alteration won’t happen quickly. Engine oil may need also to be altered but what to alter it to is still a mystery.

A substantial change to the composition of gas occurred in about the 1990s when leaded petrol was phased out, even if it happened at different times in various states. The reason why lead (or to be more precise a chemical compound containing lead) was used since about 1925 to this decade is that it was felt that it was almost impossible to do otherwise. Frank Howard said that lead was a “Gift from God” and as with everything else it’s hard to change the establishment.

Engines:

Though an engine is all about converting chemical compounds many do not stop and think what chemicals are in the actual engine itself. A number of the parts are plastics, including flow passages and molded composite parts. Luckily in recent years plastic materials have been replaced by a safer metal.

There is extensive research going into the use of ceramics in engines. Sounds a bit crazy but the Japanese are doing pretty cutting-edge things with ceramics that are superior in weight to strength ratio, until they hit certain temperatures. The Jury is out, but…

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Tires:

Rubber which makes the tires as well as various items in the car is mostly carbon and oxygen but also contains trace elements of Zinc, sulfur and other elements. Rubber can’t really be described as environmentally sound though. On one hand rubber does decompose, on the other hand it takes about 50 years to decompose.

There is also Silicon in rubber, as well as in the car’s windows. In order to stop squeaky noises, Silicon is also used as it makes an ideal lubricant. It shouldn’t be applied to the rubber part of the door but to the metallic part.

Exhaust:

The majority of the material that comes out of a car exhaust is Nitrogen, with water vapor (or H2O ) and CO2 making about 13% each. Although these are considered non-toxic they still make a contribution to the greenhouse effect.

What might be the biggest surprise element in your car is copper! There’s a lot more copper in your car than you probably expect because it’s an element of the braking system. If you didn’t have copper in the car, you’d have problems.

In conclusion:

You don’t think of a car as a bundle of chemicals but it is a factor in our environment. Car chemical improvement is a continuous process. Researchers want to replace current chemicals and substances with something “better.” Better means something safer, less impactful on environments, lighter, or maybe something most cost-efficient.

Transporting Pets Safely

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The main problem with pets in cars is the heat, as it can be raised to 20°F in around 10 minutes, and reach 30°F in about 20 minutes. It will take 60 minutes for the temperature to be 40°F hotter than outside.

But that’s not the only pet/car conflict. Other concerns include allowing a dog to ride in the back of a pick-up truck, as dogs can easily fall or jump from this area and will be killed on impact.

loading-652314_1920.jpgThough often not fatal, the injuries to your pet can be severe. One possible countermeasure is a tether, but it’s not a perfect solution and many home-brew solutions create a risk of tangling or dragging your canine behind the vehicle. It’s much better to invest in a kennel for your pet, which will require some kind of protection from the elements.

Oddly, not all states have banned dogs riding in the back of a pick-up truck. As far as animal safety is concerned, it should be Rule 1.

Another concern is a pets ability to distract a driver, which can obviously lead to damaging more than just the pet. This is best solved by housing your pet in a kennel. If you’re noticing a theme here, you are correct, in general pets should be in some kind of carrier while they are in the car.

Qualities of a Good Kennel

It should be large enough for the pet to both stand up and sit down in, and even turn around. Make sure it’s well ventilated. It is worthwhile trying out the pet in the carrier first before embarking on the trip. The carrier should be secured so that it doesn’t move around too much.

Open Windows

Letting a dog stick it’s head out the window used to be common but it’s not a good idea. There is the risk of them being injured by objects being thrown out of other cars, rocks kicked up from the road, or by signs and tree branches.

That’s just the risk to your pets, in reality, the cause of people no longer letting dogs have their heads out the window is that we’re paying so much more for our cars. If you do drive with the window down be sure to get waterproof seat covers.

Car Training your Pet

The first trip that you take your pet on shouldn’t be too long, just to get them used to traveling in the car. After traveling in the vehicle a few times the animal will become calmer and more suited to long journeys.

Note: Some animals, like some humans, will suffer from car sickness and never adjust to riding in a vehicle. You’ll need to get medicine from your vet in order to transport these pets.

What to Bring

Whether it’s a long road trip or a day excursion, you’ll need to bring some items with you. Including…a food bowl, waste scoop and plastic bags. Think about the animal’s medication too and you might even like to create a pet first aid kit. Finally, don’t forget their favorite toy.

Traveling with Pets

Pets that don’t typically run away from their yard sometimes wander off when in public parks or hiking trails. For security purposes it helps if your pet is microchipped. For longer trips, a travel tag will also be of assistance to you.

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If you are traveling between states it is a good idea to bring documentation of the pet’s rabies vaccination even if some states don’t require those details. Just to be safe.

Carry bottled water when traveling with a pet, especially on very hot days. Your pet can’t reach a drinking fountain, and don’t take for granted that you’ll have access to adequate hydration for your pet.

 

Marriage Cars

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Everyone knows or should know that when it comes to the big bucks, look at things like weddings. If you’re in the car business, this rule of thumb still applies. Rather than a more generic car rental or occasion car rental business. Although many of these companies are international, you can find different companies by stating your home city or the venue city you hope to get married in.

Compare wedding car rental firms; one in New York, one in Orlando and finally one in Texas. In New York ads feature brands such as Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Porsche. It is all about the luxurious experience, in the Big Apple. Orlando, however, uses a wider range such as motorcycle escorts and golf carts as well as limousines and sedans. Texas wedding car specialist have a larger selection than the one in New York, and included vehicles like Trolley buses and “San Francisco style” buses.

antique-16050_1920Smaller wedding car rental specialists stock vehicles for rustic wedding, which begs the question, are big players are missing a trick here?”

There is always space for novelty, for instance having your new surname on the license plate. The biggest place for novelty, and it goes without saying, is Las Vegas. It is not that hard to find companies which will escort you in monster limos (aka presidential limos), stretch trucks, English style Double Decker buses, vintage cars or even horse and cart. The weirdest transportation found for a Las Vegas event is a zip-wire, which begs the question: Why?

But going back to cars, an important insider tip is that they all seem to have cars in stock that you can’t find looking through their websites. It’s most likely the result of not keeping up inventory, but the lesson here is call or visit.

stretch-limousine-2714963_1920.jpgAnother helpful hint is to verify that the car you pick up to use is the car you selected online. Even if you’re happy with the switch see if you can get a partial refund. It is important that the driver’s gratuity can be part of the total invoice of your bill – helpful when you sort out your tax bill.

Additional time is possible, but may will add up. For example, one business quoted $175-$200 per hour. So, if your occasion goes on to the small hours or even continues over several days (as some weddings might do, especially for instance Indian weddings) this could send prices rocketing.

One factor some companies think of and others don’t is the addition of large umbrellas. This is a life saver in many cases. Ask if they’ll supply them if you suspect rain, if they don’t bring them yourself.

If you are getting married, congratulations on the happy event, however you get to and from the church, chapel or whatever…

 

The 2019 Car Awards

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It’s been a strange year for cars. They might even need image boost. The car industry might do well to hire an image consultant. These awards could focus on greener vehicles and ditch the gas guzzlers, but the truth is the gas guzzlers will remain popular for some years to come. So The Kicker will focus our awards on a wider spectrum of vehicles (small cars, electric and hybrids, and more.)  It’s award opening time once more.

The best-selling car of 2019 was again the Ford F series pickup but what is new is the runner up—Dodge Ram Pickup. 3.7% of all car sales in the US were this specific car. The Dodge massively overhauled its Ram pickup look, which they describe as “rugged” and “premium.” Perhaps they’ve overhauled their sales and marketing efforts as well, because they have closed the gap with Ford. But it seems like the Ford F series pickup will be the winner next year as well, it’s almost a done deal.

The best-selling small car of 2019 is the Volkswagen GTI, according to Usnews.com. It is described as having playful handling and sufficiently spacious for a number of family members and their cargo. It has a user-friendly infotainment system. It might be described as a combination between the VW and GTi worlds?

The most surprising car of 2018 is the BMW X7. BMW are best known for small cars of an athletic type whereas this car is more of an SUV. It’s a huge monster of a car but is easy to handle thanks to responsive steering.

The most powerful Sedan of 2019 is the Dodge Charger, as with last year we rely on the Kelley Blue Book for our information. There is a wide range of models, colors and engines so you can take your pick on what is right for you. But the distinct trim is noticeable and thematically consistent.

The best-selling electric car of 2019 is another BMW model, the BMW5. It seems to be getting technology and prestige into a compact space. Added to this are driver aids and the Apple CarPlay smartphone. Wifi is included in the premium package. (This is also according to the Kelley Blue Book.)

For the best-selling hybrid, the winner this year is the Honda Insight. The style of the new Insight has gone from a hatchback to a more sedan look. The greatest selling point is its fuel economy, whether you are using electric or gas power. This car performed excellently on a special test track as well as on back roads, according Edmonds website. Sounds like interesting work to us, where do you sign up?

The special prize goes to Tax Rebates on Electric Vehicles, though it’s a bit of a wooden spoon. When in effect in the US it successfully pushed people into taking the leap to all electric. At the moment Tesla is the biggest winner of tax rebates, especially in India, where Tesla looks to be the number one supplier to one of the biggest markets and the country plans to be all-electric by 2030. China plans to have 9% of its cars electric thanks to fuel subsidies. A Cleaner Vehicle Grant began in the UK in April.

Once again, thanks for attending the awards.

Cars and Music

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Why do we listen to music in the car?

Firstly, we are hemmed in, we feel trapped by the circumstances. Secondly, we need to keep awake so we need to feel alive and simulated in some way to focus on the job of driving. Thirdly, people just love music and enjoy listening to it.

This doesn’t mean that we should neglect our nostalgia for special tunes and streaming services have made the process much simpler.

Radio

When it comes to the radio the most common practise with 44% is to keep changing channels to find the best music, similar to the way that people channel hop on the TV at home to find the best dramas and comedies.

The reason why we chose to listen to radio is that most of us don’t like constantly listening to the same song. 60% of us find this distracting. It seems that 75% or 3 out of 4 want a song to finish when it starts.

Satellite Radio?

In terms of which type of radio channel, it appears that a satellite station is better quality than FM. For the true audiophiles, nothing will do but the best which is HD radio.

It seems that we let Uber drivers get away with murder as far as song choices go. Uber passengers, it is found, never complain about any awful music chosen and seem to want to listen to new types of music. As above, it’s 75% who don’t complain.

Most drivers feel that they have to sing along with the music, about 84%. There was a tiny group, 15% who felt they could only sing with the radio if they were alone.

Either drivers feel they are not distracted by the music or have convinced themselves they are not distracted. 80% say they aren’t distracted by green lights or so on.

The Survey Said

Edgy music is more popular, and according to Quora channels such as NPR are listened to more than the conservative talk radio or even sports radio. One person surveyed expressed a preference for the local community college jazz station. The feedback to Quora referenced the need for happy lyrics rather than sad ones.

CDs?

Because the CD is now out of date it is probably best to listen to music through your mobile by connecting it to your auxiliary input jack (also called aux). There’s a slight difficulty in that you need to convert the sound to make it transmittable, turning it into analog signal which suits headphones.

USB may be taking over from aux connections. In this method the data transmitted is more unprocessed. You can store music in a flash drive for up to 512GB.

Bluetooth might be seen as an ideal way to listen to music in a vehicle but this could be a sales pitch? The audio compression used in Bluetooth is not as good as that employed by USB. Also Bluetooth enabled files will fill your phone up quicker.

The conclusion might be to stick with radio stations just for convenience. But remember, don’t get distracted.

Sources:

https://rainnews.com/survey-digital-listening-is-growing-in-the-car-as-radio-still-leads/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224774282_An_exploratory_survey_of_in-vehicle_music_listening

http://www.insideradio.com/free/infinite-dial-am-fm-owns-of-in-car-listening/article_8187904c-236c-11e8-b328-a3358a083fe1.html

Merry Christmas Part 3

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Christmas in the Car

With all the hassle of Christmas, trying to get everything cooked in the kitchen and making sure that you have all the presents correct, spending Christmas in a car certainly has some appeal. It’s evidently an old troupe in films and TV shows that you don’t spend Christmas at home with your folks, but spend it miles from anywhere, whether in your car or old shack. Why this is so common a theme that you almost think it’s preferable.

Generally, we decorate our houses, but lately decorating the car is a trend. It starts with the little things like reindeer antlers on the side windows, or bumper stickers with a holiday theme. Santa is my co-pilot or I brake for reindeer. But more and more you’ll see clever use of LEDs to mimic house holiday lighting. That’s not even including decorating for a big event like a parade or tailgate party.

A word of warning to add lights to your car without an additional power pack is probably not a good idea and will drain your battery. In most states, sticking lights on your car is technically illegal, although the police tend to turn a blind eye at Christmas if you refrain from anything blue and flashing. And if you are using your car on private land and not entering a public road it is completely legal.

ba327f52c97b66a7273a8bed456a82adIf you use lights with their own battery pack it prevents a drain on the car’s resources. The more lights you use obviously the bigger power pack that you require.

As well as using zip ties, you might also use magnets to attach decorations to the car (the car being mostly made of magnetic metals). You should only use lights which are suitable for outdoor use. It’s important that anything attached to the car is completely secure and cannot fall off.

When it comes to the aesthetics of the vehicle a holly wreath at the front creates a nice picture. If you have a spare tire on the front of back sometimes you might find a cover for it with a picture of a wreath on it already.

christmas-car-decorations-e1570768937901An inflatable Santa tied the hood doesn’t look very classy but is certainly original. Then there are those who have a complete tree on the roof of the car. It takes all sorts out there.

You can still choose to decorate a car that is stuck in the garage, by wrapping up in crepe paper for instance.

Lights inside the car also work but remember to take them down after Christmas as they are considered a distraction.

Link to Pics of Crazy Christmas Cars

If you are going to use lights on your car and drive the public roads you have two strategies for not being pulled over: use tiny lights or use all white lights. Either way don’t have them flash. Blue, as already mentioned, are reserved for police. Red, Yellow and Green lights can be mistaken for traffic signals.

The final thought on spending the holidays in your car is this: Do not drive if you’ve been drinking. Most people know this, but it is worth repeating.

 

Fluffy Pink Car Dice

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Of course, car dice are tacky, but where did they come from. They’re among the first items sold to be hung from a rear-view mirror, and before they were fluffy, they were made of a polystyrene material. Most source agree that they started in Glendale, California but opinions are divided about whether they started in 1959 or 1952. Either way, the question is, WHY? Why on earth do we need to hang a pair of fuzzy dice where they can swing in our way?

Perhaps part of the reason they leave a bad taste in our mouth is that people who have these decorations are actually more likely to get in an accident. Traditional thought is that it’s young, drivers of hot-rods, which at one time is who was most likely to decorate their cars in such a manor. But that’s not strictly true anymore.

Brief History of Fuzzy Dice

The reasoning for this is that car dice or fluffy dice originated from US airmen during WWII, which would explain the association with flashy young men who take risks. Although several board games make use of just one die, car die must be in pairs. And while many games use dice the proper display of car dice is so that they display some combination that totals seven, leading to the obvious theory that it alludes to playing craps.

Maybe there should be more research done on whether woman hang dice in their cars, but typically this is associated with dudes. Online sources (and we all know how reliable these are!) link the practice with “hot rods;” and since its associated with people who “feel the need for speed” cements the link to airmen. This might not be reliable evidence, but it seems logical.

Nowadays both young and old have dice on their mirror – and you are more likely to have dice if you are of the older persuasion. Many men who couldn’t afford their dream car when they were new discover in retirement they can afford them. And if you want the exact car you wanted as a teenager you want the fuzzy dice that were on the hanging on the mirror back when you first saw them.

The Golden 80s

The golden age of car kitsch was the 1980’s with nodding dogs on dashboards, items stuck to the windows and bumper stickers. This was the time of the “fluffy pink dice.” If the drive to have such items was to express your individuality, then it lost its ability to satisfy as soon as everyone had them. The ultimate, flash in the pan, fad, that faded into a cliché, but never completely left.

The fad found a second life in “pimping” up the inside of your car (though there are more stylish and less obvious ways to achieve this). A reference to “pimp dice” can be found in the Urban Dictionary in 2007, but it probably originates with certain TV and movie characters like Huggee Bear from Starsky and Hutch.

Not all states support the hanging of the two dice. In Minnesota it is illegal to drive with this “tag” when the car is in motion. A citation or warning may be given if a car is being driven with anything from the rear-view mirror, be it dice, air fresheners or whatever as it may obscure your view.

The latest innovation seems to be using these fluffy dice as a speaker system. Giving them a purpose is a good idea, but generally a car’s speaker system is built-in. Probably more of a novelty.

F vs F: Endurance Racing

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When we think of motor racing we think of a few laps around a circuit and the odd pit stop and the slight possibility of a crash. It’s a given that there is a singular driver. Race goers have become so obsessed with Formula One type of driving that they are ignoring other forms of racing. Endurance racing for example. If you are a motorsport aficionado, you might like to seek out this more unusual type of racing.

In an endurance race it is all about how long a team of racers can keep going and how long the equipment (the engine, the wheels, etc.) can hold out. Most endurance racers can last six hours but it is not that unusual for races to last twelve hours or even twenty four. The teams are between two and four participants, who need to take adequate sleeping breaks in order to achieve the best results.

A Brief History of Endurance Racing

The very first endurance race occurred in Coppo Florio in Italy in 1900 with a prize of 500,000 lira (about the equivalent of $25,000 in today’s money) in addition to a cup. Originally it began and ended in Brescia, but 1908 it had changed its route totally, circulating through several places in Bologna such as Castelfranco and San Giovanni.brno-2870695_1920

Although it might be thought as one race it may be more accurate to say it is seven races, with the winner of all seven being awarded the prize. The competition was originally for sports cars, but open wheel cars were finally allowed to take part

(Note: Open wheel cars are cars where the wheels are outside the main body, such as are used in Formula One).

The “Triple Crown” represents one of the greatest accolades an endurance team can go after. If may sound more like a horse racing achievement but it goes to the team that wins the 24 hours of Daytona, 12 hours of Sebring and 24 hours of Le Mans. It’s worth noting that no one has won these races in the same year, it’s more like a lifetime achievement award. The first person to win this trio was the American Phill Hill.

The Circuit

The WeatherTech Sportscar Championship season begins with the 24 hours of Daytona event, continues with the other two Triple Crown events and then goes on to 6 hours of Watkins Glens and Petit Le Mans. To confuse matters, there is also a European and Asian Le Mans series.

The names associated with this kind of racing are not the same as Formula One. For Le Mans each team has a specific sponsor, USA is Dragonspeed and the UK is RLR Msport. There is only a certain number of teams which can enter an event for a country, it might be a bit confusing for the novice to understand.

inline-4039073_1920.jpgOf course endurance racing as a sport goes beyond cars, but even just considering things with wheels you have motorcycles, karts, motorboats, bicycle and even roller skating (the latter is takes place on public roads rather than a race course). If you’ve got the strength of mind to take part in an endurance race there is probably something out there for you.

F vs F: “Ford v Ferrari” The Movie

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Matt Damon and Christian Bale are costar in the new movie this month “Ford v Ferrari.” which is sure to be a fan favorite for car enthusiasts.

Ford_v._Ferrari_282019_film_poster29 Matt Damon plays automotive legend Carol Shelby who is tasked by Henry Ford II and Lee Iaccoca of Ford to settle a score with Enzo Ferrari for not selling his company to Ford in 1963. Enzo might have entertained selling off his brand and the line of custom street machines, but had no interest in selling their racing division. The reason is pretty obvious when you consider that Ferrari won every La Mons from 1960 to 1965.

Together with British Driver, Ken Miles (Bale), Shelby sets out to prove that Ford didn’t need to buy a winning race team to win races. The team of American engineers and designers produce the GT 40 which manages to take the win in La Mons 1966, and bragging rights the likes of which go unrivaled in auto racing.

420px-GT40_at_GoodwoodDirector James Mangold has put together a solid movie that’s fun to watch, not only for great acting but for great performance and racing scenes.

With a budget of $97 million the film makers could have designed the MK II for themselves. (Pictured Left)