Tag: cars

Cars for Comrades

 

“Cars for Comrades: The Life of the Soviet Automobile”, by Lewis Siegelbaum is one of the rare English language histories of that country’s motor industry, and it’s really more of a Soviet story than a car book.

The central paradox that gives the tale its drama is Communism’s ambiguous, and ultimately changing official attitude, towards the car. Evidently “auto” in early Russian parlance includes a range of rugged large vehicles that include all but the largest overland trucks. If there’s one country whose ex-urban areas justify the use of SUVs and similarly tall, hulking vehicles it surely is Russia.

Let’s Gas Up at the Gas-a-Teria!

 

Gilmore Gas-a-Teria at night 1948

In 1948, the first self-serve gas station was opened in the United States. The station was in Los Angeles, the car capital of the country, on Beverly Boulevard just past Fairfax Avenue and was operated by Gilmore Oil. Gilmore Oil was a large, local oil and gas company well known in southern California. Gilmore called these self-service stations “Gas-a-Teria’s”. The Gas-a-Teria was a massive station for the time featuring eight islands with three pumps per island. The self-serve gas saved the customer five cents per gallon and the attendants at the station were young women.

May Merriment: Three Slices of Happiness

 

On the way to more serious content, I ran across three very different but equally, quietly, joyful YouTube videos. Enjoy three great slices of Americana:

  •  A woman making cheeseburger pie, with camera work by her husband of many years.
  • A woman and her heavy Chevy.
  • The ice cream man and the truly diverse community he serves.

The cooking video is one of a series, shot in a couple’s kitchen. To be completely accurate, it is clearly the woman’s kitchen, and her husband is there in support and in appreciation of her cooking. How could you not like Mae Mae’s Happy Table? You will surely gain five pounds just watching, but the video is worth the weight.

Back to the Future in the Age of Coronavirus?

 

In desperation, small business people are doing what they can to stay solvent, to stave off government-mandated ruin. One strain of these responses has been a revival of earlier car culture. The drive-in movie and the drive-in diner suddenly have an attraction again. Consider two stories from Texas: one a family restaurant turned drive-in movie theater, and the other a community theater putting on a drive-in live performance. Consider, also, the Sonic restaurant brand.

In “Ingenuity to Beat the Ban,” Aaron Miller told the story of the Butler House restaurant, in Spring, Texas, which put up a large screen television in the parking lot and serves meals, including beer or wine, car side. Modern cars are pre-equipped to support this experience, as we have lots of cup holders. Back in the 1950’s you needed a special tray attached to the side of the car window because there was nowhere to safely put down your drink. Moreover, all cars now have FM radios, so you can even have a low power FM transmission of the audio.

This last feature has been leveraged by a live theater company in Texas. I heard the owner or manager interviewed on the Mark Davis Show this past Friday, and read the Fort Worth Star-Telegram story on Cleburne, Texas:

Silly Fears

 

All of us, regardless of how brave and rugged we may appear to others, have to deal with fears of all sorts throughout our lives. This post is about a fear I experienced. At its core, I think the fear I’ll be describing was about my being able to make it through what is a rite of passage in modern life: obtaining a Driver’s License and becoming a legal car driver.

At the time (late 1960s/early 1970s) and place (California) one could secure a Learner’s Permit at age 15-1/2 and a Driver’s License at age 16. The Learner’s Permit allowed you to drive a car only if you were accompanied by a responsible adult, while the Driver’s License allowed you to drive a car without any such restriction.

Quote of the Day: Natural Law

 

Good Ads“When the Gentiles, who have no knowledge of the Law, act in accordance with it by the light of nature, they show that they have a law in themselves, for they demonstrate the effect of a law operating in their own hearts. Their own consciences endorse the existence of such a law, for there is something which condemns or commends their actions.”
— Romans 2:14-15, J.B. Phillips New Testament

J.B. Phillips wrote a much-read paraphrase of the New Testament in mid-20th Century colloquial English. His paraphrase of this passage seems faithful to the underlying text and makes the point clearly, as a good paraphrase should. We see here the idea of a law encoded in the natural world, the world we all experience, whatever religious teachings we do or do not receive.

A hotel and a car commercial prompted thoughts about humans yearning for something more than fame and fortune, more than material comforts and the false sense of security attached to them. I noticed ads by Marriott and Hyundai on television screens recently, and thought perhaps they marked Madison Avenue responding to polling that showed a desire for an appeal to something positive and higher than our navels. A bit of research did not unearth any obvious white paper or trade paper tips, but these are major players in competitive industries.

Bullitt: The Car Chase

 

What was the greatest car chase scene of all time? I don’t really know; but, if I had to pick one – I’d pick the chase scene from the 1968 movie Bullitt. There were car chase scenes in the movies long before Bullitt (lots of ’em), and there have been even more car chase scenes in the movies since Bullitt. But, Bullitt is a dividing line — car chase scenes after were and still are measured against the Bullitt chase scene. That full scene (a little over ten minutes in length) is below. I should note that when I started to put this post together it took a while to find the complete scene (at least in a form that could be pasted here on Ricochet), which was a little surprising.

Group Writing: “Gentlemen, Start Your Bloomin’ Engines!”

 

Well, here we are just a few days from the start of this year’s Indianapolis 500, and the delivery of the famous exhortation to begin. From 1977 to 2017, the phrase was amended to include “Ladies” as well, if there was one or more competing. Such a rational response in this day and age that it almost boggles the mind. However, in 2017 political correctness and inclusivity caught up with Indy, and the phrase is now an anodyne “Drivers, start your engines!” I have no idea what they’ll do when the first self-driving car muscles itself into the pole position. No doubt their highly-paid consultants and lawyers will think of something.

But since it seems that the actual wording of the phrase is fluid and can be altered at will, and because this is May:

O, the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!–Thomas Dekker, 1572-1632

Sin Bin

 

The other evening, I approached an intersection as the light turned red. A white Dodge Ram 1500 custom van in the right lane caught my eye. As we slowed, I picked up on the silver and blue-gray swirling details air-brushed along the side, below the passenger rows windows. Instantly, “sin bin” popped into my head, along with memories of road-tripping, to a Lou Reed concert in Munich, Germany.

If “sin bin” does not have meaning to you, consider the following:https://i.pinimg.com/736x/90/07/be/9007be091d3b271558584924b60ec3a5--chevy-vans-custom-vans.jpg

Cars That Start?

 

I’ve got a backyard full of people and my husband is in the living room (he calls it a man cave — anything with Barbies in it is not a man cave) watching an old episode of “Trailer Park Boys.”

I wandered in to see one of the stars of the show swearing at his car because it wouldn’t start.

The Love of Dangerous Things

 

There’s talk – silly, absurd talk – of banning the private ownership of cars. Molon labe, baby! You can have my Yukon, my three-ton id, when you pry it from my cold dead hands. And you can forget the self-driving nonsense, too: up here where I live, you can’t see the lines on the road four months out of the year on account of the blowing snow. Good luck dealing with that, Google.

Ayn Rand, in one of her two major works of fiction (I’m going to go with Atlas Shrugged, but someone correct me if I’m wrong – it’s been almost 40 years since I read it) has her heroine wax rhapsodic (as if there’s any other way to wax) about the act of smoking. Dagney (or possibly Dominique) marvels at the flame held in obeisance inches from her, the spark of destruction so casually lashed into service for the pleasure of mankind. Never having been a smoker, and coming of age as I did during the first great anti-smoking crusades of the ’70s, I admit that the imagery was less compelling for me than it might have been for someone of my parents’ generation. But Dagney’s ruminations have remained with me, an oddly vivid example of our peculiar attraction to dangerous things – and to mastering them.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are fully aware that Democrats may have a good year in the midterms but Tuesday’s primary results suggest the Democrats still have a long way to go in Texas.  However, they don’t like the departure of chief Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn and they really don’t like that Trump’s surprise announcement on new tariffs is the reason for it.  And they confront a growing trend on the left demonizing people for driving or even having cars.  Jim points out it’s because urban liberals cannot fathom that anyone lives a different way than they do and Greg suggests that when lefties decide they don’t want something then no one else is allowed to have it either.

Why Americans Love SUVs

 

“The whole world is angry at America for driving SUVs. Why do we Americans love these monstrous and threatening devices? Barging through traffic in a sport utility vehicle is hardly sporting. The utility of the things is open to question. And they are vehicles mainly in the sense that the Alaska pipeline is a vehicle for oil — most of this pipeline’s capacity being needed to keep on Cadillac Escalade topped up.” — P.J. O’Rourke, Driving Like Crazy, 2009

So begins P.J. O’Rourke’s defense of SUVs, from a piece first published in the London Times, and later reprinted in Driving Like Crazy. The essay is a short one, but full of O’Rourke’s typical wit.

Member Post

 

Hennessey Performance Engineering is looking to dethrone the mighty Bugatti Chiron for the title of the World’s Fastest Hypercar with their new Venom F5, according to news reports this morning.  Hennessey’s teaser photographs hint that this vehicle will be able to hit 300 miles per hour! If true, this represents conquering a considerable engineering challenge, […]

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Member Post

 

Going through and gathering these has been an interesting experience. I had seen some of these conversations as they were initially posted, but others had whizzed by on the Ricochet treadmill. They were well worth going back and seeing. A few folks had signed up, but not followed through. There is still time for you, […]

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The Mighty Work Truck

 

With all of September’s Group Writing posts on cars, the mighty, yet humble work truck has been left out. America has a huge fleet of work trucks, utility vehicles, and other specialized vehicles on the road that you may not notice except as traffic obstacles. Yet without them, you wouldn’t have your power, your cable, your plumbing, your roads, or the rolling hospitals on wheels that take you to the hospital in an emergency.

There are a several hundred thousand work trucks in US fleets alone at the moment, with somewhere between 6000 and 12,000 new chassis shipped each month, according to the National Truck Equipment Association. These vehicles can be built in a wide variety of end configurations, some very general in purpose (the mechanic’s trucks and general service vans being the most ubiquitous), some incredibly specialized for just one or two jobs and nothing more. Unless you are in the business, or in need of their help, you may not notice the sheer variety of these vehicles or the jobs they do.

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