Archive for October, 2010

The End of Pontiac

By TOM KRISHER – Businessweek.com

The Pontiac name plate is is going out of business.

The General Motors brand was known for muscle cars drag-raced down boulevards, parked at drive-ins and roared across movie screens.

The 84-year-old brand has been moribund since GM decided to kill it last year as it collapsed into bankruptcy and was in decline for years before that.

It was undone by a combination of poor corporate strategy and changing driver tastes.

GM’s agreements with Pontiac dealers expire Sunday.

Pontiac’s sales peaked at about 1 million in 1968, when the brand’s speedier models were prized for their powerful engines and scowling grills.

Anti Traffic Jam Vehicles

18 wheeler from Mad Max movie

anti swamp all terain vehicle

monster anti traffic truck

Half Car Half airplane car that flies

Batmobile from Batman Movie

The 11 biggest electric car myths

Chevrolet Volt

By Anil Das – IBTimes

As major automakers are planning to bring out an electric car in the near future. While the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt will be the first to enter the market, Mitsubishi and SMART’s EVs will join the fray soon. So, here are few myths about electric car befor they hit the roads.

Myth 1: Electric cars won’t be able to go far enough on a single charge.

Fact: The new Chevy Volt which will be available in 2010 will be able to go 35-40 miles before fuel is used for the electrical charge. However, many estimate that the range will be improved to 80 miles before any gasoline will be burned. The cars can be plugged in and recharged during the day for a gasoline-free commute home in the evening.

Myth 2: Electric cars will still harm the the environment.

Fact: As electric cars are more efficient, even with 52 percent of our electricity being generated by coal-fired power plants, plug-in cars reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and most other pollutants compared with conventional gas or hybrid vehicles. Besides, on a daily basis consumers are moving towards using more renewable energy to power our electricity.

Myth 3: They are too slow to be on the roads.

Fact: Electric vehicles can be fast. The linear power delivery characteristics of electric vehicles can make them extremely quick. Torque is instantly available at all RPM ranges, without the usual lag we are used to with combustion engines. Currently, Tesla roadster, which is under production can reach 0-60 kms in flat 3.9 seconds

Myth 4: Customers won’t buy cars with less than 200 miles range.

Fact: So-called ‘range anxiety’ disappears, when people get used to driving EVs on a daily basis. It’s just like charging a cell phone overnight. You plug it in, and in the morning it’s ready to go, fully charged. Recently, electric vehicle portal THINK announced a new standard for fast charging – zero to 80% charged in just 15 minutes – to help cover those rare situations when an EV will be needed for more than 100 miles in a single day.

Myth 5: The batteries won’t last.

Fact: EV batteries are designed to last at least 10 years and more than 100,000 miles. Electric vehicle portal THINK has cars on the road in Europe with batteries approaching the 10-year mark and brings that experience to modern Lithium batteries to ensure they meet that target.

Nissan LEAF

Myth 6: The technology is too complicated

Fact: A modern electric car has only about five main moving parts compared with hundreds in an internal combustion engine. There are no regular visits to the dealership for an EV. No oil changes, no filters – even brake pads last two-to-three times longer than in conventional cars, because electric vehicles use regenerative braking to recapture the energy that would otherwise be lost while braking.

Myth 8: I don’t have the right kind of plug for an electric car

Fact: Plug-In Electric Hybrid Vehicles are plugged right into ordinary household outlets (120 volts). Most can be re-charged in 30 minutes or less. Government agencies and employers are leading the charge to install re-charging stations on streets, in parking garages and at park-and-ride facilities to increase convenience.

Myth 9: Fast charging EV batteries will wear them out quickly.

Fact: Modern prismatic lithium batteries can be developed with fast-charging. The critical technology is in the cell design to manage battery temperature during charging. Limiting fast charging to the 0-80% range also protects battery life. The view is that 95% or more of all EV miles will be driven on EVs charged during overnight off-peak periods when electricity is cheaper and readily available.

Myth 10: The hype over electric cars will pass and then I’ll have an obsolete vehicle.

Fact: No, this time electric cars will not be killed. Gas prices have gone up too much and dependency oil has also gone to high. The governemnt has also made an investment of $2.85 billion in electric vehicles. Department of Energy is investing $2 billion in US-based manufacturers to produce advanced vehicle batteries and drive train components, $400 million to purchase, test, and deploy different types of electric vehicles to test their viability in the marketplace, and $300 million in cost-share projects under the “Clean Cities” program

Myth 11: Plug in hybrids are the best solution.

Fact: Carrying around the extra weight and cost of two powertrains makes little sense. In some ways, a ‘hybrid garage’ (where one car is an EV and the other a relatively fuel-efficient ‘normal car’) is probably most economical for a typical family. As plug-in hybrids get bigger and heavier, they need more batteries and stronger gas- or diesel-powered generators or engines. It becomes a ‘vicious circle’ of more cost and more weight to achieve acceptable range and performance in both modes.

Crazy Custom Vehicles

Enjoy this Gallery of Strange and Unusual Custom Vehicles!

truck vehicle covered with aluminum foil

customized barrel shaped truck

car with boobs custom paint job

chia VW volkswagon weeds

car into garden green vehicle

custom man on toilet plumbers truck

car covered with post it notes

customized rolls royce VW bug

customized upside down school bus

scissor lift truck SUV

car with wagon wheels

The History of Tires

Goodyear-Tire-history-advertising

  • Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber in 1844 that was later used for tires.
  • In 1888, John Dunlop invented the air-filled or pneumatic tires, however, his were for bicycles.
  • In 1895, André Michelin was the first person to use pneumatic tires on an automobile, however, not successfully.
  • In 1911, Philip Strauss invented the first successful tire, which was a combination tire and air filled inner tube. Strauss’ company the Hardman Tire & Rubber Company marketed the tires.
  • In 1903, P.W. Litchfield of the Goodyear Tire Company patented the first tubeless tire, however, it was never commercially exploited until the 1954 Packard.
  • In 1904, mountable rims were introduced that allowed drivers to fix their own flats. In 1908, Frank Seiberling invented grooved tires with improved road traction.
  • In 1910, B.F. Goodrich Company invented longer life tires by adding carbon to the rubber.
  • Goodrich also invented the first synthetic rubber tires in 1937 made of a patented substance called Chemigum.

Pneumatic Tyre (Tire)
John Boyd Dunlop (1840-1921) was a Scottish veterinarian and the recognized inventor of the first practical pneumatic or inflatable tyre/tire. His patent was for a bicycle tire, granted in 1888. However, Robert William Thomson (1822 – 1873) invented the actual first vulcanised rubber pneumatic tire. Thomson patented his pneumatic tire in 1845, his invention worked well but was to costly to catch on. Dunlop’s tire patented in 1888 did, and so he received the most recognition. William Thomson also patented a fountain pen (1849) and a steam traction engine (1867).

from About.com

tire advertising history

Early 1900’s Car Advertising

Traffic Lights Invented by William L. Potts

The Inventor of the Traffic Light William L. Potts

Traffic Light Definition: A road signal for directing vehicular traffic by means of colored lights, typically red for stop, green for go, and yellow for proceed with caution.

At a Glance:

traffic light GIFPolice Officer William L. Potts of Detroit, Michigan, decided to do something about the problem caused by the ever increasing number of automobiles on the streets. What he had in mind was figuring out a way to adapt railroad signals for street use. Potts used red, amber, and green railroad lights and about thirty-seven dollars worth of wire and electrical controls to make the world’s first 4-way three color traffic light. It was installed in 1920 on the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues in Detroit. Within a year, Detroit had installed a total of fifteen of the new automatic lights.

The Story:
Even during the horse and buggy days, traffic in big cities was often heavy. Police officers had to be stationed full time directing traffic at busy intersections.

The world’s first traffic light came into being before the automobile was in use, and traffic consisted only of pedestrians, buggies, and wagons.  Installed at an intersection in London in 1868, it was a revolving lantern with red and green signals.  Red meant “stop” and green meant “caution.”  The lantern, illuminated by gas, was turned by means of a lever at its base so that the appropriate light faced traffic.  On January 2, 1869, this crude traffic light exploded, injuring the policeman who was operating it.

With the coming of automobiles, the situation got even worse. Police Officer William L.  Potts of Detroit, Michigan, decided to do something about the problem.  What he had in mind was figuring out a way to adapt railroad signals for street use.  The railroads were already utilizing automatic controls. But railroad traffic traveled along parallel lines.  Street traffic traveled at right angles. Potts used red, amber, and green railroad lights and about thirty-seven dollars worth of wire and electrical controls to make the world’s first 4-way three color traffic light. It was installed in 1920 on the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues in Detroit. Within a year, Detroit had installed a total of fifteen of the new automatic lights.

At about the same time, Garrett Morgan of Cleveland, Ohio realized the need to control the flow of traffic. A gifted inventor and reportedly the first African American to own an automobile in Cleveland, Ohio, he invented the electric automatic traffic light. Though it looked more like the semaphore signals you see at train crossings today.

Many others had obtained US Patents for Traffic Signals, some as early as 1918. But Morgan’s Patent was purchased by General Electric Corporation and provided the protection they needed to begin building a monopoly on traffic light manufacture.

worlds first signal tower traffic light signal

The first signal tower with automatic lights, at Michigan and Woodward

Fun Facts:

The Morgan traffic signal was a T-shaped pole unit that featured three positions: Stop, Go and an all-directional stop position. This “third position” halted traffic in all directions to allow pedestrians to cross streets more safely.traffic signal light GIF

Morgan’s traffic management device was used throughout North America until it was replaced by the red, yellow and green-light traffic signals currently used around the world.

Morganr sold the rights to his traffic signal to the General Electric Corporation for $40,000.

Shortly before his death, in 1963, Morgan was awarded a citation for his traffic signal by the United States Government.

Garrett Morgan earned US Patent No.1,475,024 issued November 20, 1923 fot his traffic signal

do not enter sign

from autos.aol.com

People who get speeding tickets are often guilty of more than simply driving faster than the posted limit. Their chief offense? It’s getting noticed in the first place. That’s the first domino to fall in the ugly chain of events that leads to a piece of “payin’ paper.”

Here are some common sense ways to run under a cop’s radar — literally

Drive within 5-10 mph of surrounding traffic. Cops are usually looking for drivers who are going noticeably faster than the other cars on the road. If you’re within a pack of cars all going 5 to 10 mph over the limit, you’ve automatically improved your odds of not being the one that gets pulled over for a speeding ticket, even though you’re all technically speeding. The cop has to pick one car; if you go with the flow of traffic, it probably won’t be you. And it definitely won’t be you if you don’t speed in the first place.

Try to stay in the middle of the pack. If you’re the lead car, logic says you’ll be the first car to run past any cop’s radar trap up ahead and get a speeding ticket. And if you’re the last car, you’ll be the one the police officer rolls up behind. That means the safest place is in the middle — just like a gazelle fleeing a hungry lion by seeking safety in the middle of the herd.police sign

Find a “rabbit.” If you can’t find a pack of cars going the speed you’d like to maintain, the next best thing is to find yourself a rabbit — a solitary driver traveling the speed you’d like to drive that you can follow discretely, about 50-100 yards back. If there’s a cop using radar, hopefully the rabbit will trip the trap and get a speeding ticket, not you. And if he brakes suddenly, you have just received your early warning in time to take defensive action.

Do not change lanes frequently, tailgate or otherwise drive aggressively. In addition to being rude and dangerous, you’re just asking for a trucker or someone with a cell phone to call the cops and give them a description of your vehicle and license plate number. Always use your signals and be courteous to fellow drivers. It’s safer, and it will help you fade into the background.

Avoid the fast lane. Use the far left lane to pass when necessary, but try to stay in the middle lanes when possible. Reason? If a cop is lurking in a cutout along the median strip (or coming at you from the opposite direction on a divided highway) the speeder in the far left lane is the one most likely to become the target. Drivers who get nailed with speeding tickets are often the type who rack it up to 10 or 15 over the limit and remain in the far left lane.

14 mph speed limit signWatch for cutouts and modulate your speed accordingly. On many highways, there are cutouts in the median strip every couple of miles. Usually, you can see these in plenty of time to slow down a little bit in case there’s a cop lurking behind the bushes ready to give you a speeding ticket.

Don’t speed when you are the only car on the road. If you ignore this warning it’s the equivalent of plastering a “ticket me!” bumper sticker on your vehicle. Even if you’re only doing five mph over the posted limit, if there’s a cop using radar, he’s got nothing to look at but you. Lonesome speeding is even more dangerous in small towns, where radar traps and aggressive enforcement by cops can be common. And never speed late at night. Drunk-driving patrols are heavy and cops are more inclined to pull you over for any offense in order to check you for signs of alcohol. Don’t give them a reason.

If it’s OK legally, get a radar detector. Yes, they’re expensive (good ones, anyhow). But a one-time hit of, say, $300 for a decent radar detector is cheaper than even a single big speeding ticket and the higher insurance costs that will come with it. Radar detectors are legal in most states and well worth the investment to avoid a speeding ticket.

slow down or die signAnd Finally:

If possible, drive a nondescript vehicle. It may not be fair, but it’s human nature to notice things that stand out from the crowd. Bright-colored cars, those with loud exhaust or other pimped-out enhancements are the cars more likely to draw a cop’s initial attention than ordinary-looking, family-type cars. Since the cop has to single out one car, which car do you suppose is the likely candidate for a speeding ticket? The bright yellow Mustang GT with 20-inch chrome rims? Or the silver Taurus?

If you do get pulled over while driving a fancy, high-profile car, your odds of getting a speeding ticket versus a warning have probably gone up. If you’re driving a fast-looking hot rod, the cop is going to assume you use it and deserve a ticket more than the guy in a family-looking ride whose plea that he “didn’t realize he was speeding, officer” comes off as more believable.

Be aware that appearances count. That is, your appearance. If your appearance says, “Responsible member of the community,” you’re apt to get a more friendly response than if you look and act like trouble.

The worst possible thing you can do is combine all the no-no’s listed above by driving a flashy car too fast, late at night when you’re the only car on the road while looking like you just robbed a bank.

If you do that, expect a speeding ticket. And expect no mercy.

speed hump warning sign

warning slow children sign

Bizarre Traffic Laws from Around the World

killdozer

England
·         If a steam locomotive is driven on roads, a man must walk in front of the vehicle with a red flag during the day and a red lantern at night to warn passers-by.
·         All steam locomotives are limited to 4mph on roads.
·         It is legal for a male to urinate in public, as long it is on the rear wheel of his motor vehicle and his right hand is on the vehicle.
.         Freemen (or women) of the city of London (Those who have had the honour of the freedom of the city bestowed upon them) have the right to heard their cattle over any of London’s bridges at any time)

Canada

New Brunswick Provincial Laws
·         Driving on the roads is not allowed.
 
Ontario Provincial Laws
·         The speed limit is 80 kph for cars, but bicyclists have the right of way.
Kanata

·         You can’t work on your car in the street.
Toronto
·         You can’t drag a dead horse down Yonge St. on a Sunday.
Quebec Provincial Laws
·         It is illegal to turn right on a red light at any time.
City Laws


Montréal
·         You may not wash your car in the street.
·         You may not park a car in such a way that it is blocking your own driveway.
·         “For Sale” signs are not permitted in the windows of moving vehicles.
·         Cars parked in public places must be locked, and their windows must be down to less than the width of a hand.
·         One’s rear license plate may not be protected by glass or plastic.
·         Citizens may not relieve themselves or spit on the street. Punishable by a fine of over 100 Canadian dollars.

 
Australia:
·         Taxi cabs are required to carry a bale of hay in the trunk.

Belgium:

A driver who needs to turn through oncoming traffic has the right of way unless he slows down or stops.

Beijing
·         Drivers of power-driven vehicles who stop at pedestrian crossings are liable to a fine of up to five yen, or a warning. -Article 40 of the Beijing Traffic Laws.

Denmark
·         Before starting your car you are required to check lights, brakes, steering and honk your horn. Try that at 4:00am!) You also need to make a visual check to make sure there are no children underneath the car.
·         If your vehicle stalls and you leave it on the side of the road, you must mark the vehicle with a red, reflecting triangle. This equipment is only mandatory when the car stalls, not at any other times, however.
·         If a horse drawn carriage is trying to pass a car and the horse becomes uneasy, the owner of the car is required to pull over and if necessary, cover the car.
·         No one may start a car while someone is underneath the vehicle.
·         Headlights must be on whenever a vehicle is being operated in order to distinguish it from parked cars.
·         When driving, you must have someone in front of your car with a flag to warn horse drawn carriages that a motorcar is coming.
Antibes
·         It is illegal to take photos of police officers or police vehicles, even if they are just in the background
Israel:
·         Bicycles may not ridden without a license.
Saudi Arabia:

A woman may not drive a car.

From Jiddah to Riyadh there are two highways: one for Muslims, another for “infidels”. If a Muslim is accompanied by an “infidel”, both are required to use the highway for infidels.

Singapore:
·         It is illegal to come within 50 meters of a pedestrian crossing the street.
Korea:

Traffic police are required to report all bribes that they receive from motorists.

Switzerland:
·         It is required that every car with snow tires has to have a sticker on its dashboard which tells that the driver should not drive faster than 160 km/h with these tires.
·         The highest speed allowed on national freeways is 120 km/h.
·         If you forget you car-keys inside the car and you leave the car open, you will be punished.

Traffic Sign History

gallery of interstate highway signs from different states

The History of United States Highway Signs

U.S. Numbered Highways have used the same basic shield since before the numbering scheme was agreed upon.
1925: The preliminary design was first proposed April 20, 1925, the same day the Joint Board on Interstate Highways decided that a numbering system would be preferable to names. Leo Boulay of Ohio suggested using the official United States shield and the designation ‘U.S.A.’. The shield had been in use by the U.S. government in various forms since the late 1700’s and a version of it can be found on modern American currency. Automobile Blue Books, Inc. of Chicago, Illinois used a blue variant of the US shield with white lettering to endorse Hotels, Garages, Restaurants, Tea Rooms, and Inns in the 1920’s.

The first plan was to use the basic shape of the official US shield as the route marker with the addition of “U.S.A.” and a route number. An early debate on color schemes was between yellow with black numbers and white with black numbers. Yellow offered better winter and snow visibility, but the color was also being proposed for use with several other road signs at the time, all related to road hazards. The color white was decided upon for the US shield.

 The first US shield actually fabricated as an example was the then-unused number ’56’ with the state of Maine . The final choice of design for the US Highway shield in 1926 was a design by Mr. Frank Cnare, who worked for the Wisconsin State Highway Dept. Mr. Cnare has a flair for drawing, and his design beat out the other 48 states hands down. His design used the U.S.D.A. logo in a very tasteful way that appealed to them very much.

Late 1920’s – Mid 1940’s: In “American Highways” April 1927, Vol. VI No. 2, the sign approved for the US numbered highway system was described thusly: “The design adopted is the commonly known United States shield outline, and this shield carries the route number, as well as the State name through which the road passes.” The chosen size for the US highway shields was approximately 18″ x 18″. US Markers in the early days were made of 16 gauge heavy embossed steel (although some states did use very heavy cast iron in place of the steel). This sign featured the state name on the top cavity, and “US” and the highway number on the bottom.

Early US signs were supposed to be all in block letters, but some curves snuck in, like the ‘S’ in the old US 66 signs. The first US shields posted in 1926 and 1927 indicated left and right turns in the numbered route by R’s and L’s in smaller US shields. Many states kept to a similar practice into the 1930’s,.

“City” U.S. Highway Shields: There was a second type of early US shield, approved for ‘city’ use. It was smaller, at around eleven inches high and wide. The smaller city-use signs dropped the state name, and only placed US in the banner area that was formerly reserved for the state name. Bannered US routes started coming into wide usage after the September 1934 AASHO meeting. Prior to that, a suffix of T had been used to denote Temporary routes, a designation that continues to be acceptable to this day as TEMP. Auxillary banner signs for road types did not come into wide use until the 1960’s.

Mid 1940’s – Mid 1950’s: In the 1943 Ohio MUTCD, they recommended the use of the “M-101” which was an outline of a US Marker on a white background, using a square sign instead of the traditonal cut-out shields. This subsequently was carried over into the National 1948 MUTCD, which changed the use of the embossed “squared off” lettering and numerals. They recommended the use at junctions and turns. In 1950 a new design was introduced by Illinois that featured the state name across the top, a divider line on a 16″ x 16″ cutout, and removing the “US” and using larger numerals on the sign. In 1953, AASHO put their foot down and required the “US” be placed back on the signs. This lead to yet another design change in 1954, when Ohio, and many of the eastern states decided to place an abbreviation and the US on the top line of the sign and remove the divider line. Examples were “OHIO-US”, “MASS-US, “CONN-US, “D.C.-US”, “MISS-US”, “TENN-US” etc. By way of contrast, both the Carolinas went as far as to spell out “UNITED STATES” using series “A” on the top of their signs, however, this design was very short lived as well, because series “A” is very hard to read.

Mid 1950’s: In the 1950’s, a new Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) changed the approved color for stop signs from black lettering on a yellow background to the now-familiar red background with white lettering. It apparently also authorized dropping the in-shield bannering, leaving just a number inside the US shield shape. Colors were not directly specified. Some states took the opportunity to change the color of the US highway shield as well. Washington, D.C. experimented with this in 1952. The state of Florida went the furthest with this idea, and started color-coding all its US shields in 1956. This resulted in odd colors like orange for US 41 and yellow for US 301. FHWA was and still is is willing to let FDOT post colored US shields, as long as it is all Florida funded. Any US shield placed with the asistance of federally collected gas tax money must conform to the most recent MUTCD. Throughout the 1980’s, FDOT maintenance crews replaced new black on white US signs on new projects with FDOT color scheme equivalents. FDOT finally decided the expense of the experiment was too great, and ceased making new colored US shields August 12, 1993. New and replaced US highway signs are the standard black numbers on white background. Vesitiges of the old coloring scheme remain, primarily in urban areas.

Kansas experimented with a new color, green, on the newly assigned US 56. Arizona experimented with directional coloring in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Mississippi colored some shields in a scheme similar to Florida’s, but possibly only in cities. Washington State experimented with directional-colored US shields in urban areas in the 1950’s. Rhode Island reportedly experimented with a red and white US 1 sign like Florida’s. Wisconsin also utilized colored US signs, Business / City US signs were yellow .
Another interesting design for US Route Markers was used in the state of Texas from 1954 – 1968. They used a standard 20″ x 20″ size marker and a larger 24″ x 24″ size marker where greater visibility was required. However, the most unique feature of their signs was the direction, turn, and trailblazer, 24″ x 24″ size markers they used. The signs were laid out with the “US” across the top, a divider line, then the numerals. Beside the numerals were a variety of arrows to indicate directions and turns of the route, or how to reach it.
old historic route 66 highway signs

Today: The states of California and Virginia still use cut-out US shields, as opposed to the standard approved black square with a white shield. California even places US on some shields. The six point US highway shield is still the highly recognizable symbol of the road system that binds the country together, from doorstop to doorstop. US 66 was decommissioned in 1985. There has been such a demand to follow the old route between Chicago and Los Angeles that “Historic US 66” brown and white US type shields are being posted in increasing numbers. The affection for the old road along the interstate is such that the states along the route have to protect the remaining original US shields from souvenir hunters and collectors. Arizona had a brief problem with the new “Historic US 66” being stolen. Legally, US Route 66 may have been decommissioned, but it has stayed in the hearts of those who lived and worked along its mostly two-lane alignment, and it stayed in the conciousness of America. The familiar US shield shape is even being painted on the asphalt in some areas of Old 66. Today the State of California is also using a modified US shield to unofficially bring back US 99 and sections of US 101 decommissioned in 1964. Arizona decomissioned or truncated many US routes in 1993, then reposted brown “Historic” shields on sections a few years later. The success of the use of green in Interstate business routes has led to the posting of a few US business routes with green shields.

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