Archive for January, 2011

Famous TV Show Cars: The Munster Koach

Munsters 1923 Ford Model T "Munster Koach"

Built in less than 30 days from three fiberglass Model T Fords, the Koach also has a brass tombstone-shaped radiator, carriage lamps, landau bars, a 300-horsepower 289 Ford Cobra V-8, Anson Astro wheels with Mickey Thompson rear slicks, and a 133-inch wheelbase, nearly identical to the Maybach 57. Casket handles on the front, step bars, parlor curtains, and the family crest on the second of the three doors complete the comically creepy car’s character.

Fun Stats:

The Munster Koach was made from 3 Model T bodies and is 18 feet long.

The Koach was created by Barris Kustom City (George Barris) during 3 weeks in 1964.

It has a 4-speed manual transmission and power rear end.

The Engine is a 289 Cobra and was bored to 425 cubic inches.

In 1964, the cost to build the first one was $18,000.

It had “blood red” velvet interior and a Gloss Black Pearl exterior.

The Munster Koach

The Most Famous Cars in Movies

1956 DeSoto Firedome Seville

Here is a list of the Most Famous Cars in Film History:

  • American Griffiti – 1956 DeSoto Firedome Seville
  • Back to the Future – DeLorean
  • Big Fish – 1967 Dodge Charger
  • Bullitt – 1968 Dodge Charger 440 R/T and 1968 Ford Mustang
  • Blues Brothers – 1974 Dodge Monaco
  • Blade I and Blade II – 1968 Dodge Charger
  • Big Fish – 1967 Dodge Charger
  • “Christine” – 1957 Plymouth Sport Fury
  • The Choppers (1961) – ’59 Buick convertible
  • Cobra – 1950 Mercury
  • Corvette Summers – Customized Corvette
  • Duel – 1970 Plymouth Valiant
  • Dirty Mary, ,Crazzy Larry – 1969 Charger R/T 440, 1966 Impala
  • Dragstrip Riot – ’55, ’56, ’57 Corvettes
  • The Car – 1969-1971 Lincoln Mark III
  • Thunderbolt and Lightfoot – 1973 Plymouth Fury
  • Fast and Furious – Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi Eclipse
  • Too Fast and Too Furious – Nissan Skyline GT-R 2
  • Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) – 1971 Ford Mustang Bos 302
  • Gone in 60 Seconds – Ford Shelby Mustang
  • Fireball 500 (1966) – SSXR Barracuda (’66 Barracuda), 426-powered
  • 66 Belvedere stock car
  • Green Hornet – ’66 Chrysler Imperial
  • The Love Bug – VW Beetle
  • Two Lane Backtop – Hemi Cuda, Dodge Daytona
  • LeMans – Gulf Porsche 917
  • Smokey and Bandit – 1976 Pontiac Trans Am
  • Grand Theft Auto (1977) – Rolls Royce
  • Rebel Without a Cause – 1949 Mercury Coupe
  • Matrix Reloaded – Cadillac Escalade EXT pickup, silver Cadillac CTS sedan
  • Italian Job (2003) – Mini Cooper S
  • The Wraith – 1986 Dodge Daytona turbos and Dodge M4S concept car
  • Last Angry Man – 1947 Buick
  • Little Ceasar – 1926 Cadillac
  • Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life – Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
  • Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (1981) – 1973 Ford XB Falcon coupe
  • Vanishing Point (1971, 1997) – 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T
  • White Lightening (1973) – Ford LTD
  • X2: X-Men Unites – Mazda RX-8
  • xXx – ’76 GTO

1971 Dodge Challenger R/T

1974 Dodge Monaco Bluesmobile

The Car and Truck of the Year

Chevrolet Volt

By Brent Snavely, Detroit Free Press

The Chevrolet Volt has won yet another major award: The North American Car of the Year.

The Volt beat out two other finalists, the Hyundai Sonata and the battery-powered Nissan Leaf.

The North American Truck of the Year is the Ford Explorer, which beat out the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Dodge Durango. It was Ford’s third consecutive year to win Truck of the Year.

Read the rest of Brent’s article HERE

Ford Explorer

Top Automotive Books

Road & Track’s Illustrated Automotive Dictionary by John Dinkel

The Road & Track Illustrated Automotive Dictionary is a handy reference that will answer your automotive questions. Whether decoding a sales brochure, making sense of information downloaded from the internet, or unraveling the latest technology detailed in a road test, The Road & Track Illustrated Automotive Dictionary has the answer.

Two decades ago, John Dinkel provided tens of thousands of auto journalists, enthusiasts, and car owners with the most comprehensive, indispensable automotive reference of its time. Now, the author has revised and updated that work, including current advances in technology, to create the new standard in automotive references.

With over twice the number of definitions and three times the illustrations of the original Auto Dictionary, this book will be the first source you turn to when answering an automotive-related question. If you need to know the difference between RON and MON octane ratings, or how a “coupe” differs from a two-door sedan, or want to know just what “bump steer” really is, turn to The Automotive Dictionary.

Written in a clear, concise style, The Road & Track Illustrated Automotive Dictionary offers explanation of all things automotive, from basic items like shock absorbers and backfires, to the complex functioning of fuel injection and antilock braking systems. Whether you’re a hard-core enthusiast or you just want to know what your mechanic is doing to your car, The Road & Track Illustrated Automotive Dictionary is the key automotive reference for your bookshelf.

Auto Repair for Dummies by Deanna Sclar

The top-selling auto repair guide–400,000 copies sold–now extensively reorganized and updated

Forty-eight percent of U.S. households perform at least some automobile maintenance on their own, with women now accounting for one third of this $34 billion automotive do-it-yourself market. For new or would-be do-it-yourself mechanics, this illustrated how-to guide has long been a must and now it’s even better. A complete reorganization now puts relevant repair and maintenance information directly after each automotive system overview, making it much easier to find hands-on fix-it instructions. Author Deanna Sclar has updated systems and repair information throughout, eliminating discussions of carburetors and adding coverage of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles. She’s also revised schedules for tune-ups and oil changes, included driving tips that can save on maintenance and repair costs, and added new advice on troubleshooting problems and determining when to call in a professional mechanic. For anyone who wants to save money on car repairs and maintenance, this book is the place to start.

Deanna Sclar (Long Beach, CA), an acclaimed auto repair expert and consumer advocate, has contributed to the Los Angeles Times and has been interviewed on the Today show, NBC Nightly News, and other television programs.

The Car: A History of the Automobile by Jonathan Glancey

Once viewed as a plaything of the wealthy and eccentric, the car is now an integral part of modern life. The Car takes us on a tour of the many roles that the automobile has played in its lifetime, and the many guise and different models in which it has appeared. Not just a book of glossy advertising shots, The Car is a social history of the impact that cars and driving have had on the world, and nowhere more so than in the United States: freeways, driveins, trucks and trailer parks all spring from the invention of the internal combustion engine

The Big Book of Car Culture: The Armchair Guide to Automotive Americana by James Hinckley

If you love cars and the American road, here’s a fun and comprehensive armchair guide to everything automotive. The Big Book of Car Culture is a photo- and memorabilia-rich look at everything that is automobilia: drive-in restaurants, gas stations, breathalyzers, tail fins, the Wienermobile, Route 66, and even Earl Scheib, who built an empire of $99 car-painting franchises.

Written by Jon Robinson and Jim Hinckley, masters of books on road-going Americana, this book features poignant essays and a collection of nearly 400 images of incredible period photography and memorabilia.

Motor City Muscle: The High Powered History of the Amercan Muscle Car by Mike Mueller

This is the high-performance tale of what was undoubtedly the fastest, loosest era in automotive history. Through the 1960s and into the 1970s, America’s carmakers fought an unbridled war for street supremacy. The warriors ranged from light and agile Z/28 Camaros and Boss 302 Mustangs to big-block brutes like the 440 Road Runner and Stage I 455 Buick GS. A few of these boulevard brawlers were closing on 500 horsepower before the insurance lobby, Ralph Nader, OPEC, and various governmental agencies conspired to stop the madness.

Muscle cars all but disappeared by 1974, with only a few anemic models soldiering through the 1980s. But by the 1990s, thanks to vastly improved engine technology, muscle cars were back with a vengeance. Motor City Muscle traces the full history right up to today’s new Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger.

About the Author

Automotive writer and photographer Mike Mueller has held staff positions with Automobile Quarterly, Corvette Fever, Muscle Car Review, and Mustang Monthly, among others. He has worked as a freelance motor journalist since 1991. A lifetime car enthusiast, Mueller has written and contributed to more than 50 automotive books, including Motorbooks’ The Complete Book of Corvette and The Complete Book of Mustang. He resides in Kennesaw, Georgia.Ultimate Encyclopedia of American Cars by Peter Henshaw

American cars are known for their sleek beauty, speed and impeccable design. Learn all this and more, including specs and design details from the great classics! Every nation has its car enthusiasts, and most have a motor industry to go with them, but nowhere is the car more strongly a part of society and a means of personal expression than in America. Whether it’s for the daily commute to work, a weekend trip to a national park or simply a visit to the supermarket, the car is an essential part of daily life.

Top 10 Hybrid Car Myths

Five years ago, most motorists viewed hybrid cars somewhere between unknown commodity and contraption. Today vehicles powered by a combination of gasoline and electricity are all the rage. Like any new technology, until you get your hands on it—in this case, on the steering wheel—it’s hard to wrap your mind around it.

Having a tough time separating hybrid truth from reality? You’re not alone. The warp-speed adoption of hybrids into popular culture—and into hundreds of thousands of American driveways—has produced more than a little confusion and misinformation. Most industry analysts predict the continued growth of gas-electric vehicles, with estimates ranging from 600,000 to 800,000 hybrid sales in the United States by 2013, so this is a good time to debunk the 10 most prevalent myths about hybrid cars.

1. You need to plug in a hybrid car.

As soon as the word “electricity” is spoken, you think of plugs, cords, and wall sockets. But today’s hybrid cars don’t need to be plugged in. Auto engineers have developed an ingenious system known as regenerative braking. (Actually, they borrowed the concept from locomotive technology.) Energy usually lost when a vehicle is slowing down or stopping is reclaimed and routed to the hybrid’s rechargeable batteries. The gas engine is also used to transfer energy to the batteries. The process is automatic, so no special requirements are placed on the driver.

Ironically, while car companies used to spend time and money explaining that hybrids need not be plugged in, a growing number of the major automakers are now introducing plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars. The ability to plug a hybrid into the electric grid overnight to charge a larger set of batteries would mean that most city driving could be done without burning a single drop of gasoline.

2. Hybrid batteries need to be replaced.

Worries about an expensive replacement of a hybrid car’s batteries continue to nag many potential buyers. Those worries are unfounded. By keeping the charge between 40 percent and 60 percent—never fully charged, yet never fully drained—carmakers have greatly extended the longevity of nickel metal hydride batteries.

The standard warranty on hybrid batteries and other components is between 80,000 and 100,000 miles, depending on the manufacturer and your location. But that doesn’t mean the batteries will die at 100,000 miles. The U.S. Department of Energy stopped its tests of hybrid battery packs—when the capacity remained almost like new—after 160,000 miles. A taxi driver in Vancouver drove his Toyota Prius more than 200,000 miles in 25 months, and after that time and mileage the batteries remained strong.

3. Hybrids are a new phenomenon.

In 1900, American car companies produced steam, electric, and gasoline cars in almost equal numbers. It wasn’t long before enterprising engineers figured out that multiple sources of power could be combined. A young Ferdinand Porsche produced the first known hybrid gas-electric prototypes…in 1900. In 1905 American engineer H. Piper filed the first patent for a gas-electric hybrid vehicle.

4. People buy hybrids only to save money on gas.

Hybrid cars top the list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. Going farther on a gallon of gas—and thus reducing a car owner’s tab at the pump—is a logical advantage of a hybrid car. But car shoppers seldom buy based purely on a logical economic equation. Besides, as critics of hybrid technology frequently point out, those savings seldom add up to the extra cost of buying a hybrid over a comparable conventional vehicle.

So, if it’s not to save money, why are more and more shoppers going hybrid? Many reasons: To minimize their impact on the environment, to help reduce the world’s addiction to oil, and to earn technology bragging rights.

5. Hybrids are expensive.

Hybrids are currently available in 25 different models ranging in price from $22,000 to $103,000. The most efficient models—the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius—are available well below $30,000. By the middle of this decade, more than 50 models are expected. By that point, hybrids will represent the full range of sizes, shapes, and costs.

Rechargeable batteries, electric motors, and sophisticated computer controls do add to the cost of producing a hybrid car. However, as production numbers increase, economies of scale are expected to reduce those costs. Toyota plans to offer hybrid versions of all its most popular models and thus cut in half the incremental cost of hybrids.

6. Hybrids are small and underpowered.

The Lexus Rx400h and Toyota Highlander Hybrid share the same 270 horsepower system. The Lexus GS 450h hybrid sedan exceeds 300 horsepower and will go from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds.

These vehicles prove that adding an electric motor and batteries to the drivetrain does not intrinsically mean diminished performance. Combining a gasoline engine and electric motors gives engineers more control to emphasize fuel parsimony or speed, urban driving or highway cruising, large vehicles or small.

7. Only liberals buy hybrids.

The list of celebrity hybrid drivers is long. They zip around Hollywood in their Priuses and appear on talk shows extolling the virtues of hybrid vehicles. These celebrities, and other early adopters of hybrid technology, were primarily motivated by the environmental benefits. As a result, they created an easy target for naysayers to brand all hybrid drivers as tree-huggers.

In the ensuing years, Americans of all political stripes have become more aware of the economic and political costs of oil dependency. Conservative pundits claim that our petrodollars end up in the hands of repressive Middle East regimes and their patrons. As a result, we fund both sides of the war on terror. In addition, autoworkers have grown more interested in fuel-saving technologies, recognizing that they bear the brunt of Detroit’s reluctance to abandon once-profitable SUVs.

8. Hybrids pose a threat to first responders.

Now that hundreds more hybrid cars take to our roads each day, some critics have wondered if public safety agencies should be concerned about all those high-voltage battery packs zipping along at freeway speeds. Yes and no.

A first responder is often in a mad race to save the lives of accident victims. In that rush, the responder has to make dozens of rapid technical decisions about how to safely remove the passengers from the vehicle. Adding the complication of unfamiliar hybrid technology can slow things down. So, it’s the worry about potential dangers—primarily when and where to cut power—rather than the system itself that can cause a problem.

Turns out that a good amount of training—and, in case of fire, lots of water—should be most of what a first responder needs upon arriving at an accident involving a hybrid. Firefighters have coped with advancing automotive technologies for years, and they will skillfully deal with hybrid cars.

See our list of other unfounded health risks posed by hybrids.

9. Hybrids will solve all our transportation, energy, and environmental problems.

The hybrid car market is ramping up. Hybrid sales in the US grew exponentially, from 9,500 in 2000 to 350,000 in 2007.

The numbers are encouraging but must be viewed in the context of the overall car market. The 350,000 hybrid car sales in 2007 represent only 2.5 percent of the 17 million new cars sold last year. If every new hybrid driver doubled fuel economy from 20 mpg to 40 mpg for 40 miles of daily driving—an optimistic estimate—then a gallon per hybrid car would be saved every day. That’s a whopping 350,000 gallons per day saved by hybrid car drivers. But we’ve only reduced our daily US consumption from 400 million gallons to 399,650,000 gallons. Hybrid cars can only be viewed as a partial solution.

10. Hybrid technology is only a fad.

Hybrid technology is often pitted against fuel cells, diesel engines, pure electric cars and/or hydrogen as the silver bullet approach to sustainable mobility. Sustainable mobility advocates don’t see these approaches as an either-or proposition. It’s all of the above.

The ability for automotive engineers to combine systems and fuels in a single hybrid vehicle gives great flexibility in finding the greatest efficiencies at the lowest cost.