Cars in Tintin.

“Herge’s Adventures of Tintin!” began the famous cartoon. Herge, whose real name was George Remi, certainly loved to draw cars and made sure they were full of intricate detail. It would take an age to show all the cars that featured in his books. Here is just a selection.

When drawing a car your mind goes into what makes a car a car. It’s the radiator, the color of the hub, the shape of the doors, the shape of the headlights (many are more than just round, they might have some decoration at the top) and so on. Some cars like a Peugeot 202 and a Land Rover which feature in the comics have a visible spare wheel at the back. It gives much more of a background style to the piece.

It’s not about drawing stationary cars, you need to look at movement. This is not about showing smoke coming out of an engine, a Lancia for example is shown which all wheels off the ground as if it going over bumpy terrain. A quick way of doing it was a squiggle shown next to car as if the car isn’t going to be at that point for very long.

The Model T Ford from Tintin in the Congo shows its distinctive canopy, side plates and visible axels.

Many cars seem to date from the 1930s, maybe this is where Tintin is meant to be set. Even comics which seem to be set in the 1960s, such as Destination Moon, include both a blue Dodge and blue Ford both manufactured in 1949.

Sadly not all the cars can be linked to real cars. There are number of cars in Tintin in America which are long enough to be Chevrolets, but not quite the pattern, the coloring is all wrong for instance. The cars driven in the part set in Chicago seem to have noticeable fenders, but there’s not that much which distinguishes them from other cars.

With a book like The Black Island you can see a noticeable love of British cars. Those who have watched the UK series Morse cannot help but recognize the hood of the Jaguar, in this case a Mark X.

Because the type of car dates a comic, when filming a book, many vehicles were replaced by other ones. Thomson and Thompson were shown driving a Peugot 201 in Black Gold, but that was changed to a Jeep.

The Calculus Affair is the comic book which features the most cars, including French cars such as 2CV (which is still recognisable as such despite being in a crashed state) and the Citroen 15 which has a noticeable sheen to the black paint.

With 205 vehicles to choose from, this is a gigantic subject and there is much more to say on the matter, including the advert that Herges made about Citroen cars. In the meantime check out François de Dardel’s website for a number of images from the comic books for a complete picture on the subject.

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Behind the Scenes of Car Stunts (Part 2)

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

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

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

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

Someone gets Hurt:

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

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

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

Equipment also changes:

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

More Technically Difficult Stunts

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

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

Using Regular Streets

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

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

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

Sexism or Practicality

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

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

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

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

Morgan – A British Success Story?

Morgan Runabout 1st made in 1909

From P. W. on the U.K. Desk

For those of you not familiar with “The Morgan” it is one of the oldest British car companies most famous for rebelling against the luxuries of modern motoring. In fact, the most common explanation for it’s popularity is nostalgia factor and the fact that it’s a “British” car company. In reality, not all current cars are over-engineered or excessively stylish so moving back to old ways isn’t exactly a real thing, and as of 2019 Morgan is owned by InvestIndustrial, who aren’t even British. Despite this, there is a six-month waiting list for these vehicles.

(This is not the time to go into the decline of the British motor industry, but it does seem a bit self-inflicted by the country and it might be drivers who suffer. Moving on…)

Morgan Supersport 1938

Morgan does have a long history though, all the way back to 1909, in some ways moving with the times but in most ways staying with the same, age-old methods. But for Morgan this formula seems to work.

The selling point was always to be small, lightweight and inexpensive. A great example is in the case of “The nuclear.” This small car attempted to fill the gap between motorcycles and cars, as cars at the time, were a bigger investment than they are now. While there has always been a market for a “semi-car” it usually came in the form of a kit car or a motorbike and sidecar. The Nuclear was a production model specific to this tiny niche market.

The Runabout cyclecar looks rather a novelty, but it’s worthwhile investigating. Despite being a three-wheeler, it has in its favor a V-twin engine and five speed transmission. The difficulty with the cyclecar is that it isn’t designed for long distance, especially with the ash wood frame rather than steel chassis.

1928 Roundabout Deluxe

The Runabout can’t be an easy car to market, it’s not exactly a company car or even a family car resembling as it does a tube on wheels. Morgan has sold it for several decades now, especially in the United States. Follow-ups include the 1911 Violette and 1914 La Vigne. The designs might be ancient but with an improved clutch and gears they are still being sold today. They are run by a twin engine.

The PlusFour hasn’t changed its “silhouette” (design) since the 1950s but it has added tech features. Even its name PlusFour conjures up another era. With a 65% increase in power and torque from the original model, and a top speed of 149 mph, it’s in keeping with the needs of today’s traffic.

Roadster at 76e international Motorshow Geneva 2006

Since you order these semi-custom vehicles before they’re made, you have a choice between manual and automatic (the automatic is eight speed and the manual is six speed). Another option is wire wheels or if you prefer alloy wheels in a number of finishes. Both have a digital info display.

Viewing a picture of these vehicles might make you think they’d take in a long time to start up but driving the 3-Wheeler for example is known as an immediate “get in and drive experience.” Exactly how it feels can only be realized by going throw the motions yourself, words can only say so much.

Maybe the Morgan makes a point about modern motoring being too sanitized, after all. There’s no reason why all automobiles have to be identikit versions of each other. Designers of vintage cars brought an aesthetic and feel to their work that most modern car companies don’t even try to replicate. There’s a reason why vintage cars are called vintage.

Virtual Travelling in 7 fun steps.

With a lack of movement and everyone stuck indoors now is the time to take a virtual journey.

Here’s How:

Your starting point is a map, (you can’t use Sat-Nav yet). Choose a map of a place you’ve never been, either a country or a state. We recommend starting with a pencil at first but as you get more experience you can switch to a highlighter. A word of caution, you’re going to be ruining this map for other things, so pick one with that in mind. Don’t worry, that map shall not have died in vane—this is an excellent creative exercise.

First Choose the Scope and Mission of your Trip:

There are two potential goals for a virtual trip:

  1. This is a detailed plan/dry run for a trip on your bucket list (You will take this trip.)
  2. Since you can’t really go right now, you may as well travel somewhere you’ll never get to in real life.

Which you choose A, or B, will determine a few details later, but either way, we recommend making this trip as detailed and real as you possibly can. This is going to be fun.

There are Two Factors to any Trip:

  1. Are you focused on the destination/objective? (or)
  2. Are you more excited by the serendipitous things that might happen along the way?
1 Destination2 Adventure
A Practice1A Practice Destination2A Practice Adventure
B Fantasy1B Fantasy Destination2B Fantasy Adventure

A good trip will have elements of both, but knowing which factors is your priority will make your planning easier. For the purpose of this trip lets assume that you are traveling the US (since there are so many good guidebooks to Europe that a virtual trip is limited in benefit).

How to Take your Virtual Road Trip:

You’ll be planning this trip step by step and collecting picture, sound, or video to support your journey experience. As you trace the map in pencil, figure out how far you are going each day and where you’ll stay on your over nights. What sites are available to see along the way? What’s worth a detour?

One great resource for this is google earth. You can zoom in and follow your map on the virtual map. Get down into the street level view and grab screen shots of the places you’ll stay and the attractions you’ll visit.

Build a play list for each leg of the journey. Dig into the web pages for each site you’ll visit. Look up the menu of local restaurants and pic out what items you’d like to eat when you’re there.

One last question to answer up front:

Is there something you haven’t done before? Is there some reason you haven’t visited a region? If so, and you intend to really do this trip, what’s you’re plan to overcome that obstacle?

Remember, Detail is King. Make this as Real as Possible!

Step 1: Who is going with you?

Regardless of whether your goal is a practice destination or a fantasy adventure you might be thinking anything from a romantic getaway to a reunion road trip. If your single and you’re wanting a romantic getaway, well, just pick someone you wish was going with you.

If you’re re-living a road trip with college buddies maybe build a Facebook group and plan it together. Have them dig up photos to post too. You can laugh about some of the adventures from the first trip and listen to the soundtrack of that time in your lives.

Step 2: What is your ideal vehicle to travel?

Remember it needs to have enough legroom, cargo space and so on. If you wish to take more than six are you renting a large van? Another option would be a Class A or Class B RV. You could split the cost between you and save on hotel costs.

Price it out and collect a picture of the potential vehicle.

Don’t forget to figure out the fuel economy of the rig, and the size of the gas tank. How many times a day will you need to stop for fuel?

Step 3: What’s the maximum length of each leg on your journey?

A journey needs a destination, but it also needs a number of stop off points. What do you want to do at these stop off points? If you’re travelling for over eight hours it is advisable to eat out somewhere.

Professional drivers are required to stop for a significant rest every 10 hours. That’s a good outside limit for a days journey, but we recommend that you’re really missing the point of a road trip if you go more than 7 hours in a day—and that’s not all in one shot.

Step 4: What to do at each stop.

Eating is a factor. You might pack some food so that you can eat without stopping, or to bring the coast down, or simply to keep from starving in the middle of nowhere when the car breaks down.

However, you will need to stop for bathroom breaks and you’re smart if you move your body a bit on these stops. You’ll also need to get gas. For efficiency it’s best to plan the bathroom breaks with the fuel stops BUT that may not always work out perfectly.

If you’re stopping off at a town or city what you want to see while there? It all comes down to how mobile you are and how long you give yourself to see different attractions. The stops can really zap your progress toward your end goal, or they can be the most memorable part of the whole journey. It depends a little on luck, a little on planning, and a lot on your perspective. This is a virtual trip so hope for the best and leave some wiggle room for life to go sideways.

Step 5: Speaking of Life Going Sideways

Is there a way through cities that avoids all the traffic? Are there back roads leading to the center of town? You might want to start each leg of your trip to avoid the rush hours. Nothing worse than spending vacation time, sitting in on the freeway. LA logjams are no more exotic than New York nightmares.

Is there a place with a view you want to see on the way? These tend to be marked on the map. Do you want to see mountains, lakes or do you want to see something else? Plan the route accordingly. This is a balancing act between driving the long beautiful route and driving the short, fast, boring route.

Step 6: Over Nights

Where are you going to stay in this virtual trip? A hotel? A hostel? A camp site? A chalet? Though you might travel in a camper van you can’t park it anywhere. This all needs to be planned and marked on your map.

Do you want to explore the city where you are staying? Take a look at its city limits or downtown region? You might like to seek out guides for the area or ask questions on forums, just so you have all the details?

One smart idea from European guidebooks is to stay at certain, strategic locations and day trip out to excursions. It can save a little time on checking in and out of hotels and let you plan around traffic more strategically.

There’s always a tendency, even in a virtual plan, to attempt to take on too much. Even if it’s only a fantasy game, try to limit a day to a stretch of coastline or thirty miles movement in a circuit. Keep things as simple as possible.

Think about the people you are travelling with. Look for activities that would please all the party. Not all the people you want to travel with will be with you in a lockdown, your ideal date for instance. What would keep them happy?

Step 7: Your Destination

When you plan your trips it’s not advisable to travel very far on the first day or the last day. You need to use that time to rest. Just be conscious of what you want to do when you get “there,” wherever “there” is? If you will need your wits about you, don’t plan to come in at midnight after a 10-hour straight drive.

Bonus Step 8: How can you make this a real-life adventure?

Could you afford the trip in real life? Maybe you can’t pull it off right after the pandemic lifts, but you could save up for it.

Decide if you could put ½ a percent of your income into an envelope in your sock drawer. If you can pull it off soon, Gas is under $3 a gallon right now and your emotional heart could use a break. Really, how far are you planning to go?

One last word of caution though, there’s always the need to have extra spending money, and money for emergencies, it will end up costing a bit more than the raw date you collect, but you won’t know until you work it out.

So, when are you doing this journey for real, then?

The Minimal Car Which Could Get Anywhere.

There are huge number of public spaces in European towns, especially in Italy, tight areas where it would be hard for sedans to navigate. Whether the roads are too rough, or the area is designated to pedestrians, it is not a place for normal cars. Added to this are car-free islands where there is no way to transport anything substantial to the place.

Is there a Motorized Vehicle Solution?

This is where you need some kind of minimalist car. What is a minimalist car? Well there are a few examples already in existence, and if the market demands it, perhaps they will design more.

In Slovenia, for instance, where the elderly and the infirm are moved about by Ljubjani or slow-moving taxis. But there are hundreds of such regions from the Spandau of Berlin to the Renaissance Quarter of Seville. There must be a market here for mini vehicles?

Such was the concept that Giorgetto Guigiaro hoped to innovate. One of the chief designers of Italdesign, he had created a number of specialist cars like the famous Delorean. Giorgetto was ahead of his time, thinking up concepts like ride-sharing long before others created it. Could he create a car that narrowed everything down to the basic essentials, for use in these urban enclaves where other cars cannot go?

A New Approach to A New Type of Car

In terms of car design, Italdesign does a little of everything, including creating prototypes for automobiles and design validation. At least according to their website. It’s not clear how validation differs from testing, maybe it’s about getting from a prototype to a product that can enter the market.

Guigiaro planned to get a minimalist car to market by 1992, but there’s little point in researching a new vehicle unless you plan for some kind of success. Previous attempts at minimalist cars, like the Sinclair C5, had a toy car look and feel. These cars embraced their identity as novelty cars and therefore had no mass marketability.

The car that Guigiaro came up with was the Biga, one of the first electric cars. This type of car looks more like a small van than a car and it has been built to save space.

Which parts did the vehicle need and what could be left out?

To look at the Biga from the outside you might find it hard to believe it is possible for this tiny a vehicle to transport four people. The way round this is to only to have the driver’s seat where it usually is. The other three seats are at 90° from the driver’s seat and access is only available through a back door. If each seat had its own door this would take up needless space.

You might have thought that the Biga was made of fiberglass, but it was actually made of a lightweight steel. The overall effect is a cube on wheels. Like a number of compact cars since, the Biga can be parked at right angles to the sidewalk (where the law permits), this allows you to easily fit three Biga’s in the length of two normal parking spots.

Not all cars can be Cadiallacs, there are hundreds of vehicles that aren’t there for the mass market. It’s hard to find accurate sales of the Biga. It would be difficult to judge those numbers in context if you found them. The reason is that the Biga is a cross between a novelty car and a mass market production vehicle—more in the category of a four-wheel drive off-road vehicle, only most off-road vehicles are still able to serve as a daily driver in a pinch. The Biga is the type of car which encourages creative thought and solves a problem, rather than one that makes a huge impression. So it makes a splash in its own way.