80’s Cars vs Todays Cars

From the UK desk

In the 80s a number of station wagon were introduced and before the introduction of Coupes and Sedans. The number of strikes in the 80s meant it was a tough time for car factories.

A car which had the power of the Acura is unknown these days. In the late 80s they were considered pretty cool with 118 hp.

The Audi Quattro was truly iconic with five turbocharged cylinders. These hatchbacks took the world rallies by storm. Sadly, not many of them made their way across to the US; most of the cars were rather neutral in comparison. Despite some strong contenders’ acceleration wasn’t as good as today’s vehicles.

Vehicle that did make it across the pond include the Pontiac Firebird and the Ford Mustang GT. The price however has fallen down in recent years due to lack of parts. Who’d have thought red convertibles would go out of style, but everything has its period of glory.

As Chrysler merged with Maserati the Chrysler TC was born. The Chrysler company has created a number of improved vehicles since. They did have a 5-year warranty, including maintenance. In 1987 Chrysler purchased another big player: AMC.

Look at the Dodge Daytona with its dipping headlights. Again, the lack of horsepower let it down.

Although these cars may not yet be known as classic, they show their age.

You could adapt these cars to get a better horsepower but then you’d lose something of the essential flavor of these vehicles.

The Pearl Harbor Buick

What makes a car collectable? The condition it’s in? No, that effects the value up or down, but lots of cars are in great shape. Another possibility is that you know the provenance of the car–who owned it in the past. Sometimes a car was owned by someone famous and that makes it collectable, but there’s one more key factor.

It often starts with the actual original cost of the car, but that’s sort of a side effect. The real reason a car becomes collectable is that it’s rare. A high priced car means fewer sold which is the first element of making it rare. Another reason a car could be rare is that it’s old. A lot of that car were sold, but not many of them remain. (Cars owned by famous people is another example of rarity.

But one of the best ways a car becomes rare, and collectable, is that it has a great story, and few cars have better stories than the Pearl Harbor Buick.

Original Owner:

According to the Roanoke Times, this particular Buick, a 1939 Buick Special Convertible Coupe 46C with Dynaflash 8, was owned by DeForest “Dee” Venter. Dee was a sailor from Connecticut who went to Pearl and brought the car with him.

Pear Harbor Day:

When Japanese surprise attack hit the US fleet stationed in the Harbor in 1941 killing more than 2,400 people, and destroying Millions of dollars of property and vehicles. The Pearl Harbor Buick sat on the street through the bombing without receiving a scratch.

Provenance:

When Dee and a his buddy, George Bullard, went to sea, the Buick went to Georges wife, Mary. Mary Bullard kept the car for 30 years and then sold it to her cousin, A.C. Wilson. A.C. proudly drove the car in parades.

Where is the Buick Now:

A.C. finally decided to sell and put the car at auction. Tom Beasley of Stuart, Virginia, won the car for a mere $73,700. No word yet if Beasley will display the car, or keep it in his private collection.

Note: We at the Kicker proudly support our Active Military Servicemen and women as well as our veterans who fought so bravely for our freedom. Our sponsor, TireKickers.biz, is veteran owned and employs as many veterans as possible. We wish all of you the best this Pearl Harbor Day.

What Is A Rocket Bike?

There are two types of rocket bike: a manual cycle with added rocket power (or what appears to be rocket power) and a motorbike with additional power. They are often thought of as stunt bikes, because they lack deceleration and are impractical for the highway, but stunt bikes is its own category, which just happens to also not be street legal. While most stunt bikes you won’t see on the road, it’s definitely just as well that you will not see a rocket bike of any description on the road.

Early Rocket Bikes:

Early versions of the Rocket bike include Germans Fritz von Hopel, and Richter. Fritz von Hopel bolted six booster rockets to what was a 22hp (horsepower) motorcycle called “The Monster,” but he was stalled by the German government. He finally created a rocket powered motorcycle in 1929. Richter in 1931 had a less than successful test run; his bike exploded. This was also in Germany.

Rocket Bikes Today:

You might expect that we have mastered the skill by now, but the thing about being a stuntman is that things can always go wrong. It’s best to always be prepared. Names currently associated with rocket bikes include Eric Teboul, Francois Gissy, Fred Rombelberg, Rick Jojatt and the most famous, Evel Knievel.

So, let’s take these doers of daring-do one by one.

Eric Teboul who gained the nickname “Rocketman” by achieving speeds of 220mph. The bike ran on hydrogen peroxide which is broken down into oxygen and a massive cloud of steam, coming out of its exhaust nozzle. It will accelerate until it runs out of fuel.

Francois Gissy sped up to 207mph, the bike was made to be lightweight, looking more than an e-bike rather than a motorbike. Silver powder provides the “secret ingredient” to the thrust. He also developed a bike which had a speed of 249mph called “The Spine Crusher” though it is difficult to maintain such speeds.

Fred Rompelberg reached a speed of 286mph, though it had to be towed by a racecar for a bit. He achieved 0-60 in 11 seconds in a home-built rocket bike.

Most infamous is definitely Evel Knievel whose rocket bike was developed by experts including US Robert Truax. The goal was to jump the Snake River Canyon. The jump took place September 8, 1974. It’s a little hard to think of a rocket bikes taking off at a trajectory, but not flying as such. As long as there is no wings it’s a power assisted jump—not a flight.

Technically the bike cleared the canyon, but a parachute was deployed too early; the high winds affected the trajectory causing a technical fall. The bike reached speeds of 250mph; he was lucky to have survived.

Rick Jojatt known as The Human Fly used rocket power to jump 27 buses. He may not have appreciated the fame as he disappeared soon after achieving the stunt.

What is the fastest speed of anyone on rocket bike?

The leader has changed hands several times. In 1999, The Mach 3 Challenger (sponsored by Gillette) piloted by Richard Brown achieved a speed of 365mph. Then along comes Rocky Robinson with a bike called “Jet reaction” which was powered by a gas turbine achieved a speed of 376 mph.

Several bikes are lined up with over 425 pounds of torque to make attempts at breaking the 400 mph mark, we’ll soon see.

Is it about the records? Francois Gissy says that when he gets old he may settle down to the comfort of a motorcycle. This is the kind of people we are dealing with; those who think the speed of a motorbike is too geriatric.

Texan Car Factories

There is a long history of car manufacture in Texas, as early as 1917 a plant in Fort Worth. As many companies manufacture in a number of states it’s hard to find an individual characteristic that explains why a particular car is made a particular place. For instance, we may associate Cadillacs with Texas, but they were originally from Michigan. Still, if car makers prefer to locate factories there, either the State government is friendly to them (tax wise) or Texans as enterprising individuals.

The reason why cars were first made in Texas was to do with promising tax breaks. The first factory created Chevrolet’s. It didn’t look that much like a factory; the windows were too big. It would be satisfying to say the first car was a success, but it was given to a local reporter who promptly crashed it – so much for promotions.

The tax breaks for Chevrolets unfortunately didn’t last beyond 1922 and the factory had to close. Fortunately, a similar one opened in downtown Fort Worth.

“Texans” by Plymouth/ Dodge were also made in Fort Worth in 1922, almost forgotten about now. Their slogan was “first in endurance, durability and speed.” They might have had too much of the last feature with a massive 35 hp, more than they cope with. In their glory days they produced 20 cars a day, but it seems they did not live up to demand.

One factory that is still running is at Arlington – Arlington Assembly. The factory has operated more than 60 years creating large SUVs and Chevrolet and Cadillac, although when it started in 1954 it also made aircraft. During the 1990’s they also made roadsters such as the Buick Roadmaster. The names were reminiscent of long past – The Chevrolet Monte Carlo, the Oldsmobile Cutlass, the Pontiac Chieftain, despite this only being the 1990’s.

As with other factories they have recently moved into battery powered cars, with many developing cell technologies. The Chevrolet Volt was the first mass market plug-in hybrid. The Tahoe, described as a “full-sized SUV” with several versatile features, is also produced here. There are plans for a new underbody for both the Tahoe and Suburban – other improvements are more cargo space and electro-hydraulic brakes for both vehicles.

At this factory plans were announced in December 2019 for an expansion costing 1.6 million. In addition to this, there will be a $1.4 billion spent on an improved body and paint shops. So, it doesn’t appear this factory is going anywhere soon.

Tesla chose Austin to build a plant for the Cybertruck and the site also produces the Model Y, a small SUV. Reports say that they are concentrating on the East Coast, not the whole US, planning to invest $1 billion. Since they are planning to have a Cybertruck out there in 2021 they may need to get a move on.

Another car maker in Texas which don’t immediately trip off the tongue is Union Tank Car Company. Their focus is railway engines and carriages, but they also manufacture cars. And as with many automakers they manufacture in other states as well.

The Pain of Tolls

The payments involved in a running a car seems never-ending, maintenance, insurance, tax. But most annoying of these is probably tolls. It is always important to know how to pay a toll before you travel on a specific road: the onus is on you, should you wish to travel from one state or another or through a number of states.

The term toll road is mainly west coast terminology. In the east tolls exist but they’re called turnpikes.

Shunpiking – is the term for cheating tolls by running tollbooths or concealing tags (RFID). It has unfortunately increased, especially in areas where the toll is thought to be too high or when the road isn’t managed properly. Shunpiking – from shun meaning to avoid and turnpike which is the old name for a toll road. Of course, people have been trying to evade tolls as long as they’re have been tolls to avoid.

History of Tolls:

In Nevada, 100 toll roads were laid between 1850-1880. This was to finance stagecoach companies and mining countries, though it is now run by individual organizations such as Transportation Corridor Agencies in Florida 

In the east, the highways were nearly all toll-roads by 1950s, only 10% of road funding came from taxes. So, it’s a long-held tradition.

Legal Ways to Skip Tolls:

A boycott occurred at the James River Bridge in Eastern Virginia, starting from 1955. Trucks of the Smithfield Packing Company who always used the bridge before, were told by their employer to take a different route. This continued for twenty years until finally the toll was dropped.

Legal ways of skipping the toll exist. With a little bit of research, you can route around them. Take the Delaware Turnpike and similar ones in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. In fact, some toll roads exist merely as a shortcut to bypass a congested artery.

Sometimes a private landowner fights government attempts to acquire their land for a road but succumbs to an opportunity to make far more money by leasing the land to a developer who builds a toll road across it. Want to get there for free? A way exists. Want to get there fast, pay a little and you can.

Paying Tolls:

When it comes to paying the tolls there are easy way to do it, such as the E-Z Pass on the north- eastern roads. In some cases, the license plates are registered, in other cases, drivers pay after they used the road. Some sites such as a FasTrack account (which works in California, including San Francisco’s Golden Gare Bridge) allow for the addition of a temporary number plate, e.g. from a rented car.

Transponders are a common way to pay tolls; they record your badge to charge your tolls, either by check or by debit cards. Sometimes by prepay and other times after each use. These are a good way of saving you money if you regularly pay tolls. Look at the math and see what the best option is. (Why this method of payment is called a “transponder” is a bit of a mystery., it’s some kind of wireless device, nothing to do with transport or the internet as such).

When using a manned toll booth take some time to count your cash. An unmanned toll booth tends to use a basket, it’s important to have the correct change.

As well as toll roads you need to pay extra money to use High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes or express lanes. Much like the private toll roads mentioned earlier, these lanes exist to allow you to skip the congestion for a small fee. It’s probably worth it if you are trying keep to a deadline.

Jet Style Cars

With the birth of jets flying became all the rage. While none of the cars below are propelled by a jet engine—and such things do exist—they are definitely inspired by jets.

Rear of Ghia Streamline X Coupe

There are a number of plane designers which moved into car production, such as Saab and Spyder. Sometimes there seemed little design here at all, just put four wheels on a fighter jet, but some designers showed a bit of innovation.

As you might expect, these were products of an age when everyone thought we might have flying cars in thirty or forty years’ time. Remember that airplanes were only about fifty years old or so, givn another 30 or 40 years anything could happen. They might be a little sad to know we still don’t have flying cars.

Interior:

Many car designers had the idea of getting the dashboard to look slightly like a plane’s cockpit. I say slightly because a plane’s cockpit must be the most confusing thing to base a dashboard on, but that’s fashions for you. Although we are used the steering wheel they also had designs on that too, a more D-shaped design.

A number of vehicles had cockpit dials, such as a Morgan 3 wheeler, if you require a smaller example of these type of car. Or you can go all-out and go for Lamaghorni ‘s Reventon. Inspired by a US fighter jet, these has more complicated dials and details for a cool 1.6 million dollars.

Exterior:

Ghia Streamline X Coupe

What makes a “jet inspired” car? Maybe having rear lights which are pointier than normal. This was the idea of Ghia Streamline X Coupé from 1955, and its front is noticeably prominent and, er, streamlined. The wheels are rather similar to discs.

T-Rex

There’s also the names like Vapor which conjure up the idea of flying through the air. Why they decided to call a car that looks like a plane “T-Rex” is maybe more of a mystery, but again there is a observable prominence of the hood. Maybe their son just happened to like T-Rexes, but it may make it hard to sell to adults.

From 1950 the Studebaker Woodie seems a weird combination of style, the pointy hood (again evoking the jet) but also a veneer design to both the doors and the trunk. To continue the aeroplane feel it also has a fur lining.

Chrysler Turbine

The Chrysler Turbine seems to be named after its turbine style headlight and has a brass metallic coloration. It was only built by Chrysler for less than two years, from 1963 to 64. As with the Ghia above it has a coupé style, which is defined as “having two doors, a sloping roof and has a roof which can’t be removed.” So definitely branded to those who have yet to start a family.

The Fad is Not Dead:

It seems as if the Mustang wants to continue the jet analogy in its marketing. The latest version of the Mustang has the word “Groundspeed” imprinted on its speedometer, just for those fans of the air.

There seems a number of people out there ready to renovate these vintage cars, hardly a revelation given the prices that these tend to go for. Why go for a common car when you can go for “jet” car?

Notes on Speed and Acceleration

People aren’t clear on the exact difference between speed and acceleration. Speed is the amount of miles per hour (or similar) while acceleration is changing the speed over time.

The first example of speeding was in Dayton Ohio with a speed of 12mph. This was in 1904.

To open up a car means to open up the throttle. It is also known as driving full throttle. This device, also known as the accelerator or gas pedal is designed to regulate fuel or air reaching the engine and speed up.

To zoom suggests a car which spins along with a humming sound. The term spin was once only applied to an engine turning to twist thread, but is now applied to any engine ticking over.

Go hell for leather originally referred to riding a horse as fast as possible.

Burn rubber which is first seen in 1900 meant to go so fast that you could hear a burning smell.

There are several speedy phrases which come from films. The need for speed comes from Top Gun (1986) and Fast and the Furious was from an action film about street racing.

Fast and loose means generally reckless and irresponsible, but it can mean going too fast.

Gear is the transmission concerning the torque and similar which allows the car to move, hence Up a gear, into top gear, etc.

To tootle is to travel in an aimless direction rather than at speed, first referring to riding a bike in 1949 quote.

Running on Empty comes from about 1905 and refers to driving without the adequate fuel. Then there is a backfire, a mistimed explosion in the cylinder or exhaust.

0-60: The speed of acceleration of the vehicle; how quickly it can travel from 0 to 60mph. This is the standard of acceleration measured in test drives on a racetrack. Most cars can go to 0 to 60 in under 6 seconds but cars like the Tesla Roadster can do it in under 2 seconds.

It seems a pity you can’t highlight a cars top speed on adverts, because it is believed that encourages the owner to speed. The advertisers have to come up with other reasons for you to buy their car.

The first speed limit set was at 10mph as long ago as 1865 for propelled vehicles (traction engines, steam cars and similar).

In 1901, Connecticutt set the maximum speed limit of 12mph in its cities and 15mph in its rural areas, but it took several years for other states to follow suit. Exactly how they intended to judge the speed isn’t clear as the speedometer wasn’t patented until 1902 and wasn’t a common feature for cars until 1910…

Drive safely out there…

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.

Early Racing

Early racing included Paris to Rouen, a mere 80Km. It had a top speed of 10 mph. 69 cars were in the preliminary competition after which only 25 won a place in the competition itself. Paris to Bordeaux could be better described as a race but even that one only went to 24 mph.

Early races were sponsored by newspapers, for example the Paris-Rouen race was run by Le Petit Journal. By 1900 cars were doing about 80kph. Because of the damage to the racers, spectators and even livestock which found itself on the road, races weren’t exactly annual events.

Indie 500

The Indy500 began in 1911 with the name “the 500 Mile International Sweepstake” and is still run today. Taking place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the oval circuit shape has been nicknamed The Brickyard due to its paved appearance. The race itself consists of 200 laps of the circuit. At one point it earned the name “The greatest spectacle in racing”.

Hotrod Racing

These early races shouldn’t be described as “hot rod” races. A hot rod is a later invention and is technically a modified older car. In essence racing a Model T in the 1920s was a contemporary car. A few decades later modified Model T’s would race under the banner “hot rod.”

Hotrod races began in California in the 1930’s but they lost popularity in the 1980s. As might be expected the older cars weren’t designed for speed, hence the need for modification. This included Ford Model Ts and similar vehicles.

As well as modifying to run faster it was important to reduce some of the bulk of the vehicle. These vehicles might be comparable with the boneshakers of the bicycle world, just not racers in the conventional sense. It’s not clear why “hot rod” is called this, but many believe it refers to the connection between illegal booze and racing. Rum runners used to modify vehicles to smuggle hooch around country roads. Many racing traditions sprung up from the practice of fleeing revenuers. If this is where “hotrod” came from, it could refer to burning alcohol instead of gas or the act of fleeing the law in a supped up rig.

The Mille Miglia meanwhile started in 1927 and ended in 1957. Generally, it started and finished in Rome going through the mountains and small villages.

Early and Dangerous

These early races have been associated with disasters. In 1938 several spectators were killed. In 1957 two drivers were killed and even more unexpectedly, eleven spectators were killed as well. It’s likely that engine speed was easier to increase than handling, which was seen as the drivers job.

There’s also the Milwaukee Mile, which used an old horse racing track. Then there’s the Knoxville Raceway in Iowa which had “illegal races” between 1901 and 1914 (aka the dodgy part of car racing the history).

The term “Grand Prix” goes all the way back to 1894. It began with a road rage challenge and moved into endurance racing. Formula racing (Formula One etc) began in 1947 with the first world championship in 1951. From there it became the professional activity we know today.

Some of these endurance races were about speed, such as Indy500. Others such as Targo Florio which was set on the mountainous roads of Sicily were about overall performance. The sport of racing was finding its feet. Today, racing is a great deal safer but it could be said to have lost some of its romanticism.

The Story of the Drive-In

Like any cinema, a drive-in is a cinema with a large movie screen, projection booth, a stand selling snacks or drinks and a large area to park your car. What’s different is that instead of rows of seats, you have rows of parking spots and everyone views the movie from their car. Instead of buying individual tickets you generally pay by the carload.

As well as snacks and drinks, the drive-in was linked to larger restaurants – one business supporting the other, you might say.

There are drive-in theaters throughout the world; the first modern drive-in opened in 1933 in New Jersey, but it soon gained a cult following at about the 1950s.

Many old theaters appear on the National Registers of Historical Places. The 66 Drive-in at Carthage Missouri on US Route 66 is the oldest drive-in still going. It showed its first movie in 1949.

Mobmov is a worldwide network of guerilla (unofficial) drive-in theaters. It uses car powered video projectors and transmitters. This was begun in 2005 in San Francisco and all the shows were free.

The Early Drive-Ins:

The earliest drive-ins include The Theatre de Guadalupe in New Mexico, 1915, which only ran for a year. The first film presented was Bags of Gold.

The 1932 Hollingshead Theatre used a Kodak projector on the hood of a car. It was also necessary to set some of the vehicles on blocks so all viewers could see the screen. It offered 400 slots and advertised it as families welcome -not something you tend to see at cinemas today. The first movie was Wives Beware. Hollingshead ran it for three years without making a profit.

The problem could have been the sound issues, in regular theatres the speakers were high up on towers which unfortunately meant the sound wasn’t in sync when it traveled across an entire parking lot. In 1931 one solution was introduced, having a row of speakers in front of the cars. By 1941 you could control the sound using your own in-car speakers.

What’s the Draw of Watching a Moving in your Car?

The popularity of drive-ins could be due to it being the early days of cinema, how exactly do you watch this movie? It tended to be more popular with teens than older people, it could possibly be somewhere to take your car, and usually at this time, your date. Teens had a limited number of places to spend time with a date, this was the most privacy you could find while still being in public.

The reason why drive-ins began to fail may have been linked to the Uniform Time Act. Because drive-ins took place outside and during the evening the level of light is important: you can’t show movies in daylight. There was, no doubt, good reasons for increasing the hours of sunlight in the summer months, but it wasn’t conducive with running a drive-in.

After the 1960s the number of drive-ins shrunk from over 4000 drive-ins to a mere 325. It might just have been the light-after all it doesn’t affect patrons in the Spring, Autumn or Winter. Maybe the novelty had just worn off?

In replicating this American institution, businesses have looked for creating Art-deco sign displays and looking for sponsors to fund their enterprise. As with everything else promotion on Facebook and Twitter works wonders. Many people look for drive-ins to make a comeback under the current lock-down conditions. Only time will tell.