The Odd World of Stock Cars

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A stock car, as in stock car racing, is a vehicle upgraded for racing, as opposed to a “formula car,” which is designed and built to race. (Think Formula One and so on). So why take a new car and modify it? Well price for one thing. While you can spend tens of thousands of dollars modifying a car to race it’s nowhere near the cost of a formula car. This makes stock cars more accessible to the semi-pro, or weekend, racer and fan.

Even the sports origin is more “common man.” The activity seems to come from the prohibition era. In those days cars were adapted for speed, including lightening the chassis or main body to let moonshiners outrun the police.

Obviously, stock car racing exists on two basic levels—that of the weekend racer and that of the professional league racer. The former use cars with very few adaptions called “street stock” or “pure stock.” The only concession to racing is the addition of safety features.

The next grade up is super stock which allows some changes to be made, such as getting the power up to 373 kilowatts (maximum of 410 kilowatts). Other modifications might include adding front and rear spoilers for aerodynamics and removing seats.

Another term you’ll hear near these racers is a late model, which as the name suggests, refers to cars that have only just been manufactured.

When it comes to the racing late models it usually occurs on asphalt, such as the CRA Super Series and the Pro All Stars Series, however, there are a few dirt track races such as the Lucas Oil Late Model Series.

Obviously, you make significantly different modifications when rigging a car to race asphalt than for dirt.

race-car-1031767_1920A big point of contention among drivers of the two disciplines whether dirt driving or asphalt driving is the purest way to race. Some fans prefer dirt racing because the track is more a part of the race. It can be more exciting, seeing a car deal with a much tougher course. There are more dirt race tracks in the world and as a result more dirt racers.

On the other hand, asphalt racing reaches higher speeds and the focus becomes more head-to-head between drivers as they handle the speeds with inches between bumpers.

Types of Modification:

One way of describing the process might be getting rid of anything superfluous. There are so many different areas you have to bear in mind when modifying a car such as the aerodynamics of the vehicle, the weight distribution, the overall suspension, ergonomics (in other words is the equipment suitable for the user) as well as looking at the efficiency of the engine.

Whether dirt or asphalt, safety is the key modification. You might feel like your car contains safety measures, but it wasn’t designed to handle rolling out at 200 MPH or sliding several hundred yards on it’s roof. Why have a glove compartment when you can have a fire suppression system? Successfully adapting a car is a complex operation that can take years to learn.

The creation process begins with what is known as a safety cell or roll cage. This might be described as a second chassis where you are protected if anything goes wrong. It is impossible to remove all elements of danger and some participants may feel they don’t want to but it does help to reduce injury.

In fact, most asphalt racers are sedans, because of the room needed to accommodate safety features. Only certain saloon cars (sedans) are suitable to be turned into stock cars, such as the Ford Mondeo or Sierra and the Vauxhall Vectra.

Some dirt racers might choose a smaller car with beefed up suspension as they aren’t as likely to wreck at top speed. They do need much stronger tires such as those made by Yokohama.

If you’re thinking about buying a car, whether for a weekend track race or a daily commuter, be sure to have it inspected. Check out our sponsor TireKickers for more details.

Naming Cars

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Op-Ed by Staff

So, imagine you have created a car, what more do you need? Well, the first thing you need is a name. Perhaps the only thing harder to name is a new drug. It’s quite hard to come up something which doesn’t sound rude in a different language and of course, you always want something which sells the car and the brand. It’s a hard slog and it doesn’t always work.

The idea of looking to future might seem a given, but a car called the Futurama bombed terribly. It may not have just been the name, the design was awful too.

nash-835986_1920When it comes to naming your car company it tends to be mostly surnames such as Cadillac and Honda, but having said that it needs to be the right kind of surname. Fortunately, Emil Jellinik didn’t try this, preferring to name a car after his daughter Mercedes. There was a car designer called Benz though; Carl Benz. I hope Mercedes didn’t have to marry one of Benz’s relatives to keep the company; things would become difficult for her.

In some ways it is similar to naming an individual, you want something with a bit of tradition but you want something that suggests that you’ve thought about your decision too. In the end, you might have to see it before you know what you want to call it.

Many cars are named after concepts like Honda Accord, Chevrolet Agile and Caprice and so on. It’s a bit of moot point whether people want to be capricious, but people tend to want to show accord or show agility, at least in their car driving.sunbeam-835969_1920.jpg

An original way to come up with a car is to shorten a word or phrase. The Versa, for example, which apparently is short for versatile space (though there is a river and a pop band too, as well as a Roman word). You could come up with a car called Techni or Revo, couldn’t you?

Each make of car creates a specific brand and so the names might be quite similar. Lamborghini uses Spanish terms, many of which are used in bullfighting, such as Aventador (a fighting bull) and Estoque, a matador’s sword. Obviously, terms like matador and toreador are too obvious. Vauxhall, however, have used the Picador, which is a bullfighter on horseback, so Lamborghini can’t take that.

Peugeot has numbers like 3008 and 107. Why do the numbers always have zeros though? I think it’s due to small numbers feeling less stressful, hence too why the number always starts with 1,2 or 3. It’s just a theory though.

renault-1671405_1920A popular theme might be to look at mythology. Clio is the muse of history, there is both a Honda Clio (sold in Japan) and a Renault Clio. The Honda Phateon may be named after the son of the God of fire or an old name for a carriage, it’s difficult to tell. There’s a great deal of mythology about but it might be wise to look at a successful mythological figure, look at Zeus rather than Icarus. And they tend to look at Greek mythology rather than anything too obscure.

Another thing you might want to stay away from is excessively long names. Ford left the minivan market entirely in 2008, then came back with a series of cargo vans called Transit Connect. They doubled down on the chaos by offering a dozen different sizes, packages, and designs without tweaking the name at all. Is this a Transit Connect XT? LT? XLT? No, I want the big one? Oh, the titanium? No the big one…

Yep, try not to confuse your customers. That’s a no-no.

So to sum up:

  1. Give it a human name if it works as a car.
  2. Or try naming it after a concept.
  3. A shorter word hasn’t been tried much.
  4. Come up with a group of names so you came more than one car.
  5. Try plundering mythology.

Now all you need is a new type of car…

 

Surprising Glove Compartments

We wanted to name this “Past, Present, and Future of Glove Compartments” but it was a bit long and some of what we ran into was surprising. For example, the future of glove compartments is not a sure thing.

We take the idea of a glove compartment for granted, most people knowing it as an area to the left of the dashboard in front of the passenger’s chair. It is not known as the glove compartment in all areas of the US though, the other names being a cubby hole and around the Rocky Mountains the jockey box. The strangest name must be the torpedo compartment, maybe due to being an ideal spot for a villain to hide a torpedo release button? Brits call it a cubby box by the way.

 

But where does the whole thing of a glove compartment come from? Well it should be obvious that it dates back to when gloves were a prime piece of equipment for the driver. With a rough steering wheel which got oily or hot, gloves were seen as useful to keep the hands cool and clean.

The first use of the term is thanks to a racing driver, Dorothy Levitt who is believed to have used a glove compartment, but it was in a different position than we find it today. The location of the glove compartment was to be found under the driver’s chair and was a just a set of drawers, presumably used for storing more than one set of gloves. The driver’s chair was raised higher than today’s chairs and there was no passenger’s chair next to the driver’s chair. There were no trunks in early cars; the storage was in hampers or baskets. The term “trunk” may have come from a huge box used to store certain equipment in the car.

The alterations to what was stored in the glove compartment came as early as the 1930s. No one would use them to store gloves at this stage.  It has been more often used as an area to store valuables or just to show you had valuables that you could afford to keep in a car.  In modern days these luxuries have included laptops and mobiles as well as Sat-Navs. Or you may keep documents associated with your vehicle.

And it seemed like a no-brainer to keep the glove compartment near the dashboard so you wouldn’t need to go under your seat to find anything and could also make the seat lower.  The weirdest thing that has been kept in the glove compartment would seem to be tiny dogs, though personally, I would worry about how much room they would have.

So why do we think the humble glove compartment might actually be dwindling in popularity. Many cars, even luxury cars do not come with glove compartments. It seems that a sizeable amount of the vehicle owning public don’t use the space at all, 25% prefer to keep the space empty.

If you don’t have a glove box you will likely need alternate solutions to your storage needs. Kelly on Hative.com has loads of creative ways to store things in your car if that’s your challenge.

Of course, another reason you might need more storage in your car is that you have too much CRAP in there. In that case, we bring you Aby of Simplify101.com with ideas about the best way to clean out your glove box. Starting with this quote:

First, clear everything out of the glove compartment and load it into a portable storage container. Take your bucket of stuff inside to a flat surface (I used the kitchen table) and sort like with like. Toss out the things you don’t need (like old ketchup packets) and find a new home for items you need but not in your car.

Which should leave you with the bare essentials and a few extras. Nationwide insurance suggests the following list of must-haves:

  • Medical information.
  • Emergency contact numbers.
  • Pen and paper.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • Owner’s manual and maintenance schedule.

We have a couple luxury items to add to that list, of course, but it’s enough of a topic to rate it’s own post soon. If you’re a traditionalist and actually want to store gloves in there, here’s a set that come well recommended.

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Autodromo Slingback Driving Gloves

The glove compartment could be an area ripe for innovation though, with car space being at a premium.

As we’ve recommended before, if you have an old cell phone on pay as you go, you could keep it in the glove box so you can use the GPS location to find your car if it’s every stollen.

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According to Thrillist, the 1957 Eldorado Baughm by Cadillac came with a cocktail set for the glove compartment. Perhaps a better concept would be an area to keep drinks cool.

If you have any ideas about what the glove compartment could be used for or maybe what a replacement for this cubicle could be please comment below. All innovations have to begin somewhere, after all.

 

Auto Testing

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When you hear the words new car testing, what probably flashes to mind are dramatic videos of cars deliberately smashed against walls in a closed facility with a number of dummies inside. In reality, this is only one of the many tests cars go through before entering the market.

Post premarket auto tests are carried out in “the real world” to see how the car, including its components (paintwork, engine, etc) cope with the vigorous conditions; mud, fording streams, icy conditions and so on.

car-1242080_1920The actual number of tests that a manufacturer takes a car on is a closely guarded secret, but it is known that they use places like Death Valley or a test track in the mountains of Germany in order to see how the car operates. The testers are interested in how the car accelerates and, perhaps more importantly to us as drivers, how it brakes. Generally, they are looking for how the car handles on these extreme roads and this driving routine.

Driving smoothness in what most people might feel are unsmooth conditions is important. Although it would be impossible to remove all the bumps and jolts it is up to the designers the minimize discomfort.

Comfort is another aspect that people tend to need to think about. If the front seats or the back seats do not feel right some redesigning might be needed. Then there’s the problem of leaks, either air leaks or fluid leaks might need to be looked at. Is there a likelihood of something further along the line? Your prototype is your opportunity to address problems before they get truly expensive, which is when it’s gone into production.

Although unfamiliar to most of us, the industry refers to this as “rig and component level testing.” Think of the rig as another name for the chassis or body and the components as everything else. More precisely, rig testing works out exactly how durable and sensitive the chassis is to certain stimuli, and component testing focuses on individual elements and how they work together.

Some tests require the car to be built but others can be accomplished through computer simulations. Jaguar, for instance, uses computer simulation as a good way to save money. Why build a car that will be considered unsafe? Many people have heard of Computer Aided Design or CAD but the car industry is more reliant on CAE or Computer Aided Engineering. Simulation is hardly a new use of computers but as technology increases the number of virtual tests also increases.

Perhaps the single most important car feature, after safety, is fuel economy. Despite all the projections about miles per gallon, someone has to actually drive the car far enough to establish the actual number. Until recently, cars haven’t been very efficient in this respect, but car buyers are starting demand better efficiency even in luxury sedans and trucks. The need to save energy and fuel prices changes things.

There is so much testing involved in automobile manufacturing that is a wonder that any car ever goes into production at all. Perhaps more startling is the number of high profile recalls of cars in recent years given the rigorous testing designed to make the cars safer. Still, with all the money involved, and all the possibilities of what could go wrong, testing is an important step in the process.

 

The Weird World of Kit Cars

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The idea of assembling an object sent over in the post might work with something like a closet organizer or a dresser but it’s a bit different with a car. For a start, there are more parts!

The first question you might ask is, why build a car? Why not just buy one from a showroom?

Well, there are a number of reasons you might build a car; one is if the car is used in a competitive activity such as hill climbing or road racing. Shows like Junkyard Challenge show how you mix and match different cars to make them better suited for specific occupations. Or you just might want a unique kind of car that different from anything else on the road.

Technically custom-built cars, those built for racing or climbing mountains, are not the same thing as a kit car per se. A kit car is a definite commercial item; it just comes in a form different from other cars.

Then What is a Kit Car?

With a kit car, you will find the more important components such as the engine and the transmission system come from donor vehicles which of course you need to buy elsewhere. So, far from keeping costs down, you might be creating expense. It is hardly the cheapest option and it can become an expensive hobby.

How much of a car is included in a kit car? Surprisingly it might be none at all; you might just have bought a list of instructions. Alternatively, you might obtain every single component a car might need; all you have to do is fit them together. Sound simple?

History of Kits?

There is a long history of kit cars, going back to 1896. Before Ford’s assembly line, car makers experimented with several ways to make them affordable. The opportunity to own one seemed to interest the magazine called The English Mechanic which showed how to build a car of your own. The first US kit car went by the macho name of “Lad’s Car”, costing about $160 in 1926, which translates as $2,200 today. It did take a bit of time to get going, not quite reaching its stride until the 1950s. Since so much went wrong with the cars of the day, people preferred to own the car showroom models.

What About Cost?

One technological advance that made the kit car more viable was the introduction of fiberglass into automaking. This brought the prices of the cars right down because the parts were cheaper to manufacture and lighter, and therefore cheaper, to ship.

Kit cars do offer potential cost savings of prebuilt models. If you are willing to accept a car that looks like a fancy custom vehicle but isn’t actually that vehicle with it’s brand name price, you could get most of the experience of owning such a car. For example, some cars are rare and collectible. Why pay collector rates when you just want to drive around is something cool. Taxes are another potential savings. If you pay sales tax on a junk car with good bones and then use a kit to cherry it out, you aren’t paying sales tax on the cost of all your labor.

The most famous kit car…

The most famous kit car is probably the Lotus but the AC Cobra is still being made. Many current models are replicas of older models – it seems that the designs of the cars haven’t changed for decades.

Possibly there could be a market for a new style of kit car, one that takes on the latest ideas of what cars are. It seems that we need to get over the idea that home assembly is too difficult for the novice, experimenting with new ideas and forms might be what it’s all about.

 

Best of the Web

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(Editors Note: Tomorrow is Juneteenth in many States. The Kicker would like to honor everyone who’s free at last. Let us never take our liberty for granted and may we all march forward toward peace and a bright, unified future.)

Here’s a just-for-fun post we found at a site called Brittish Car Terminology.

British term American term
accumulator battery
actuator switch or servo
Artic ‘artic’ulated lorry=semi tractor-trailer
baulk ring synchro ring (transmission synchromesh)
bonnet hood
boot trunk
bulkhead firewall
choke tube venturi (carb)
core plug freeze plug
crocodile clip alligator clip
crosshead screw Phillips head screw
crown wheel ring gear(gear in differential)
cubby box glove box or glove compartment
damper shock absorber
drive shaft half shaft or axle shaft to wheel
drop-head coupe convertible (version of 2 door coupe, see roadster)
dumpy screwdriver short screwdriver
dynamo generator
earth ground
estate station wagon
fascia dashboard
fixed-head coupe 2 door coupe
frogeye bugeye
Gallon (Imperial) 4.5 US Quarts
gearbox transmission
gudgeon pin wrist pin
hood convertible top
jointing compound gasket sealant
lorry truck
mole wrench Vice grips
monocoque unibody
Ministry of Transport Department of Transportation
MOT (see above) DOT (see above)
nave plate hubcap
near side left side.
nose front of car
off side right side.
paraffin kerosene
pinking knocking or pinging
prop shaft drive shaft
petrol gasoline
prise pry(apply force with a lever, pry-bar, crow-bar, screwdriver)
proud raised, stands above surrounding surface.
quarterlight vent window – small, usually ‘triangular’ side window
rev counter tachometer
reversing lights back-up lights
ring gear flywheel gear, or starter gear (shrink fit onto the flywheel)
roadster convertible (car that comes only with a soft-top, usually a minimalist, manual, Erector-Set top*
roundabout rotary, traffic circle
RoStyle type of steel wheel (as opposed to wire)
saloon ‘sedan’,2 or 4 door
scuttle cowl
side curtains removable side windows, usually flexible plastic.
silencer muffler
sill rocker panel
shooting brake station wagon
spanner wrench
split pin cotter pin
spring washer split lock washer (as opposed to star washer)
squab part of seat
suction advance vacuum advance
sump oil pan
thrust bearing throwout bearing
tick over idle
top gear high gear
torch flashlight
trunnion sliding or rotating joint (suspension) (pin in bore)
tyre tire
wanker someone who hacks on their car — usually clueless
wheel nut lug nut
Whitworth British thread standard (size denotes hex head size)
windscreen windshield
wing fender

Locating a Car

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There are four reasons why the police may want to “locate a car;”

  1. To recover a stolen car
  2. To establish that a certain car was at the specific location at a certain time
  3. To stop and arrest someone with a warrant
  4. Retrieve an abductee

Obviously, the best way to identify a car is through the license plate. But plates can be stolen which can muddy the waters. A better identification is the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) which is engraved on a plate in the dashboard, visible through the windshield. This makes personal, visual confirmation the primary way to locate a vehicle.

So police might canvas a neighborhood looking for a suspect vehicle or for a resident who knows where the vehicle is. However, what happens if you don’t see the car? Well, there are still other ways.

The Sat-Nav (Satellite Navigation) system can track a car’s movement in real time. This may take a warrant, or not, depending on your jurisdiction. Why spend all that time tracking down a car when there is a programme following where the car is going all the time? Many people don’t think about their onboard navigation. Professional car thieves do. Unsurprisingly, when people steal a car the Sat-Nav is the first thing to go.

Although many people don’t have records of their tire tracks, certain tire marks at a crime scene may be checked against a car to see if they are the same sort. In fact, there is a national database for tire tracks and composition so that a tire can be quickly identified from the residue it leaves. This would suggest that a car was at a certain place, but you may need additional clues to work out when the car was at the location.

If the car was involved in a collision it may leave debris at the scene. There may be entire panels but usually, it’s just bits of paint. It may be part of the hood, some glass from the window or anything else. Most national law enforcement agencies maintain a database of the characteristics and composites of every aspect of vehicles commonly driven in their jurisdictions.

car-1531277_1920Even if nothing is physically left at the location, it might help to think deductively. If a car’s gas is being paid through a certain account knowing where that card was recently used provides indications of where it might be going. Once the search area is established, police could search for security cameras or closed-circuit cameras to establish a visual identification. The person’s account is a brilliant source of information, especially in these days when people pay by credit card.

Then there are cars used for professional purposes. A car used as a taxi may have the markings of the business which runs it, making it visually easier to spot. Of course, the fastest way to establish location might be to ask the cab’s control office. Dispatchers should generally know where a vehicle is.

The placard on rideshare vehicles are less noticeable and blend in with thousands of other rideshare vehicles. Clearly Uber tracks everywhere a cell phone associated with the driver’s account goes, which the company will turn over to law enforcement if requested. It’s not proof positive that a car was at a particular place at a particular time, but it’s quite likely.

Kicker Blog hack: Some pay as you go cell phone plans are cheap enough that you can leave an old cell phone charged up in your glove compartment so that if you’re separated from your vehicle authorities could locate the phone and with it the car.

What happens if a car has been stolen, how do you recover it? Well, it’s essential to act quickly. Don’t assume the stolen car is still being driven around. With an older car the parts may be more valuable than the car itself, so it may be quickly chopped up. Even with newer cars, many thieves essentially launder the car by selling it in parts. It’s hard to scrub the VIN number off all the places its engraved unless you take the car apart anyway.

The criminal may give themselves away with the rareness of these parts though, and the lack of a “paper trail” to who owned them. It becomes clear after a little digging, so it comes down to the honesty of the auto parts intermediary or dealer.

So how do you know if you’re at risk of losing your car to a thief? If you have a rare, or collectible vehicle you’re more of a target. Also, expensive or luxury brands are more often stolen for obvious reasons—the reward better justifies the risk of getting caught. However, there’re a couple factors that might not come quickly to mind.

  1. The risk goes down in areas that don’t enforce the car theft laws.
  2. The risk goes down if the chopped parts being sold are common.

So watch out for areas on borders between countries or states. The Oregon/Washington border, for example, Border cities Vancouver and Portland charge each other extradition when a car thief is jailed before trial, so car thieves steal their cars in one state and chop it across the state line so that if they’re caught they’ll be released before trial. In these areas, more common vehicles lower the risk of getting caught further and nearly any vehicle in good condition is a target for theft.

The only remaining device left to police is to target thieves instead of the vehicles threw bait cars. By allowing car thieves to attempt to steal a car that won’t actually start but is equipped with cameras, the arrest is quick and the case against them is sure.

Although not all cars are located, there are many techniques out there to make sure that cars are recovered and returned to the owners. And now you know.

Fun Local Finds

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When you start looking around at cool vehicles you run into a many fun, unexpected things.

2018-06-02 14.11.20Take this couple, who’ve modified their trike to accommodate the special needs of their best friend.

 

Or this surprise, free classic car show that happens every first Thursday all summer at Lisa’s (a local diner).

 

2018-06-07 16.03.17I came before a lot of the cars had arrived. I look forward to going back and interviewing some of the owners.

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So get out and think cars folks. It’s a fun hobby and a great group of creative people who believe in the romance of the road.

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Of Presidents and their Cars

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Sometimes we don’t think about why things are the way they are, we just accept them. For example, why, in a “car country” like the U.S., does neither the president nor the vice president drive on public roads? It’s not actually a law, that they can’t, but its official policy.

Perhaps the image that springs to mind is of a chauffeur ferrying the president about to important appointments–occasionally chatting with the POTUS about his day. In actual fact, the presidents’ drivers are part of their security team who is highly trained to take evasive action when necessary.

This all stemmed from the assassination of JFK. Even though the President wasn’t actually driving when that occurred, it reshaped how the secret service looked at threats during transport.

PresidentReaganLeaningonhisCJ8-700x469Still, a number of presidents find ways around the rule. Noted Jeep enthusiast, Ronald Regan drove a number of jeeps off-road, which some might think is more dangerous. He and Nancy bought a working 688-acre ranch in California to get away from the politics when he was governor and kept in through his Presidency. Hard to say if he did any stunt driving while acting, but he did get a vanity plate for the jeep that read, “Gipper.”

Which president sacrificed the biggest in terms of loving to drive? That depends on how you measure it. Donald Trump was certainly already accustomed to someone else doing the driving, however, he put the largest car collection of any President-Elect to garage until the end of his time in the White House. From a 1956 Rolls to a 2003 Merc all must remain in the garage. It’s a wonder why he wanted the job really.

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On the bright side, traffic is no longer a problem. As you can imagine, the chief benefit of being a world leader is that your driver needn’t stop for a traffic light and even if things get really bad you can just go by helicopter instead.

 

Contrary to popular belief, there are several plains outfitted for the President, and whichever one he’s on becomes “Airforce One.” Likewise, whichever helicopter he takes is “Marine One.” The car equivalent is Limousine One, AKA the First Car, but it’s seldom called that. Most reporters and security personnel seem to refer to the main armored limousine containing the president by a codename, “The Beast.”

It kinds of make sense if you had a limousine that you wouldn’t drive it yourself, you’d hand over the keys to someone else. Perhaps doubly so if you’re running a nation 24/7.

Interestingly, with all the flags, etc. it still has Washington D.C. numbered plates. (Some national leaders don’t, the Queen of England for example.) This started in 2013 is most notable because the D.C. plates contain the Moto of Washington D.C. “Taxation without representation.” (The reference is to D.C. not having any representation in Congress but still paying federal taxes.)

Where is the car kept? Well, the 1910s were a tipping point in the car versus horse debate and the stables at the White House were converted into a garage at that time. Fear not, the President still has access to horses but they are kept elsewhere. Mostly though, the only time you’d see a presidential horse is at the swearing-in ceremony or at a president’s funeral; they have gone out of favor in recent years.

As most people know the Beast and its retinue of cars form what is known as “motorcade”. It should come as no surprise the term was coined by an automobile reporter in 1912 who worked for Arizona Republican. One of the vehicles in a presidential or vice-presidential motorcade is a Chevrolet Suburban, equipped with ECM (electronic countermeasures) to protects against guided attacks from a number of devices.

The Beast itself is highly customized by GMC, but most resembles a Cadillac. The Secret Service gives precise specs for the vehicle but obviously tells very little details about it. We are told it costs between $300,000 and $1.5 million. That’s a big range.

As of 2009, the weight increased drastically which necessitated higher capacity tires. Clearly visible to expert eyes are Goodyear Reginal RHS tires meant for trucks. Much of the weight comes from the armor plating and 5 inch thick, bulletproof glass.

The cabin is airtight against gas attacks, which creates some quirks. For example, there are no keyholes. The Passenger doors are opened via a method the Secret Service doesn’t disclose. Notice a theme here? Another quirk, the only window that rolls up or down is the drivers. Let’s hope it’s a powered window. Who wants to crank that puppy up and down?

rendering-of-new-presidential-limoThe Beast also contains fire extinguishers, 1st aid kits, and 2 pints of the blood in the Presidents type. But the best defense is a good offense, and the Beast’s offensive capabilities, include rocket-propelled grenades, a tear gas cannon, pump action shotguns, and infra-red smoke grenades. Okay, now I’m envious.

Finally, before you ask, yes the Beast Goes pretty much everywhere with the president. They have around 13 of them and they load them into c-130 aircraft even on trips to Asia.

It seems the Secret Service has responded adequately to the black eye they got from JFK’s assassination.