Friday, December 7, 2018

MotoArigato Top 25 Articles of All Time

With the year winding down we take a look back over our illustrious past to dig up some of the articles that are favorites among our writers and readers. The list below is presented in no particular order but reveals some of the more informative, funny and engaging articles we have published since our inception 9-years ago. We'd also like to offer a massive "thank you" to all of our readers, sponsors and contributors and we are very excited to bring you a wider variety of stories for the new year with the addition of new staff writers that you will be introduced to in the coming weeks and months, as well as contributions from readers covering everything from their own personal restoration projects to cross-country road trips. All in all, this site works because you enjoy what we post here, so we want to include more of our readers as active participants and content creators.

  1. Director Guillermo del Toro Builds Himself Replica of "The Car"
  2. Bathurst 1000 Live Commentary: Drunk and Drunkerer
  3. JC Unit One; On the Road In Johnny Cash's Custom Tour Bus
  4. Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance Follow Up
  5. All Ages Love Kidd's Toy Museum
  6. The True Story behind Cocomats, an Iconic American Company  
  7. Big Ass Engine Sounds Like a Rave DJ  
  8. Space Shuttle Cockpit 3D View in HD Makes Us All Giggly Inside  
  9. When You Think of Offroading in a Benz, Is This What Comes to Mind
  10. The Worst Car I Ever Owned Was A Series II Jaguar XJ6  
  11. Ever Wondered Why You Can't Pump Your Own Gas In Oregon?  
  12. Need a Bright Red G-class In a Hurry? 
  13. Iron Chef Battle Secret Ingredient: Moonshine! 
  14. What Became of Gaddafi's Rocket Car?   
  15. All British Field Meet Makes Us Want to do Something Dirty with an E-Type  
  16. Steve Jobs Magical Barcode License Plate Mystery Revealed 
  17. "Black Beauty" Artwork Featured on io9 
  18. The Mystery of the Ducati In the Living Room 
  19. Portland's Adult Soapbox Derby Is Giant Beer Garden of Fun  
  20. Toto, I Don't Think We're In 1950 Anymore
  21. Cars In The Park; Mercedes-Benz and BMW Edition  
  22. The Last 100 hours of Aryton Senna's Life  
  23. Ever Wonder How They Ship F1 Cars? 
  24. CLK55 P.O.S. Edition -or- Enter the Lion Vagina Car   
  25. Oldies but Goodies; A Guide to Buying and Driving a Used W202 Mercedes

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van News; New Plant & Amazon Fleet

Mercedes-Benz Van News: New Sprinter plant in North Charleston SC & Amazon Becomes Sprinter's Biggest Customer

  • New part-by-part production facility with body shop, paint shop and final assembly opens in time for the U.S. market launch of the new Mercedes- Benz Sprinter
  • First Sprinter out of new production delivered to Amazon:
  • New Partnership with Amazon includes the delivery of 20,000 vans for small businesses across the U.S., making the online retailer the world's largest Sprinter customer
  • Investment of approximately 500 million U.S. Dollars in new plant
  • State-of-the-art intelligent production – with driverless transport systems, paperless documentation and exceptional digital training tools
  • More than 900 employees at start of production; up to 1,300 team members planned by the end of 2020
Mercedes-Benz Vans has opened its new Sprinter plant for the North American market. After considering the high market potential for the new Sprinter in North America, the decision to build a new production facility in time for the launch of the new Sprinter model in the USA was announced in March 2015. The facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, is now up and running following a two year construction period. The total investment adds up to approx. 500 million dollars with more than 900 people working at the expanded North Charleston site, that number is set to grow up to 1,300 by the end of 2020. According to estimations, suppliers will create an additional 600 new jobs in and around North Charleston.
"The USA is already the second largest market for our Sprinter today. With the new, state-of-the-art production site in South Carolina, we will be able to supply our customers in North America even faster and with more flexibility in the future. This makes better use of the dynamic market potential, placing our new plant in North Charleston as a central component of our growth strategy
`Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global'," said Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
"The new plant in North Charleston combines our global expertise and experience resulting in a state-of-the-art facility in every respect. It is a valuable asset that completes our global production network. Our priority at Mercedes-Benz Vans during the planning process for this facility was maximum flexibility. This enables us to react in an agile and anticipatory manner to current developments and customer desires. Additionally, it guarantees excellent quality within our proven, standardized production system," said Frank Klein, Head of Operations Mercedes-Benz Vans.
To coincide with the opening, Mercedes-Benz Vans also announced it will be producing Amazon branded Sprinter vans for the retail company's new Delivery Service Partner program at the new plant. Small business owners will work with third-party fleet management companies to procure their customized vans and get special leases in order to keep their startup costs low.

"We're proud to partner with Mercedes-Benz Vans to contribute to local economies through the order of Amazon branded Sprinter vans produced at their new plant in North Charleston," said Dave Clark, Amazon's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. "Thanks to the tremendous response to Amazon's new Delivery Service Partner program, we are excited to increase our original order of branded Sprinter vans to 20,000 vehicles so new small businesses will have access to a customized fleet to power deliveries of Amazon packages."
U.S. market launch for the new Sprinter
The opening could not come at a better time – 2018 marks the U.S. market launch of the new generation of the highly acclaimed van.
The third generation of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter defines the top class of large vans in all sub-disciplines. Its classic strengths have been improved upon and are complemented by new intelligent products and services.
Among the outstanding innovations in the North American market are the new multimedia systems MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), the control and display concept in the cockpit, as well as ergonomically shaped seats and modern assistance systems - some of them were taken over by the car sector and, for the first time, found their way into a Mercedes-Benz van.
New standards are being set in the field of digitization and connectivity, which is why the new Sprinter can be described as the first van in a new category with a holistic overall system solution. The previously available version of the proven Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was in high demand among customers in the USA, the second largest market in the world for Sprinter vans.
Since 2006, Semi-Knocked-Down kits have been assembled in North Charleston for imported Sprinter vans and since 2015 also for imported Metris Midsize Vans (known in other markets as "Vito"). With the new plant and the "made in USA" vehicles, the business area will be able to serve the growing demand of North American customers more economically and significantly reduce delivery times in this market.
The new Sprinter will be made under the brands Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner.

Additional facilities including body shop, paint shop and final assembly
Mercedes-Benz has put the full weight of its technical expertise into the North Charleston location. The new factory expands upon the existing Mercedes-Benz Vans assembly plant with additional facilities, including body shop, paint shop and final assembly. The company is implementing its most innovative production technologies and concepts at the location, making it one of the most modern of its kind in North America and an integral part of Mercedes-Benz Vans' global production network.
The expansion of the production facility has tripled its footprint, now covering 222 acres or nearly 10 million square ft. The production and office building area comes now to around 41 acres or 1.8 million square ft., supplemented by free and logistics space. Central to the innovations are connectivity and digital communication in manufacturing due to continuously growing demands for flexibility and efficiency in production and to the increasing diversity of vehicle variants and sales figures continuing to rise.
Employees are also benefitting from increased digitalization as it minimizes routine and repetitive tasks, giving them more time for higher-value work. The outstanding innovations include self-driving transport systems, the shift to paperless, digital communication and new opportunities provided by virtual employee training.
Autonomous transport systems deliver free-flowing traffic
Like other locations within the Mercedes-Benz Vans production network, the plant in North Charleston is equipped with driverless transport systems – which can travel more than 40 miles in one shift. They are controlled through networking with the plant's IT system and via RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology. The associated transponders, incorporated into the factory floors, receive the necessary driving commands. The vehicles can also use Bluetooth to communicate with one another and coordinate automatically, thus guaranteeing smooth traffic flow at all times.
Paperless documentation with RFID technology
Among the biggest transformations is the paperless, digital production documentation, based on RFID technology. It means the position of a specific component can be pinpointed precisely at any given time with contactless, automatic identification and localization. This information allows employees in logistics and production to feasibly adjust to process changes. Moreover, quality assurance personnel can ascertain that the correct part has been installed in the correct vehicle. Relative to conventional processes, RFID technology has made it possible to eliminate several steps of documentation, with one example being the manual scanning of barcodes. This not only saves time and money but also reduces the number of potential sources of error.
Effective training with digital tools
At every Mercedes-Benz plant, personnel remains the most important factor when it comes to quality. At the North Charleston plant, conventional methods are amplified by digital training tools to help prepare them for their jobs. Due to the diversity of body types, powertrain concepts, body lengths, tonnages, cargo-space heights and equipment options, the new Sprinter is available in more than 1,700 variants. Each and every employee has to learn around 900 individual process steps in a specific order to enable them to build the new Sprinter. With the utilization of digital tools, this process is now efficient and sustainable. In assembly, employees can use an on-screen approach similar to that of a computer game to familiarize themselves with procedures and components. Previously, training for assembly work was conducted purely on pre-production vehicles. Training of paint-shop personnel is likewise aided by digital techniques. For example, they are able to use Virtual Reality (VR) spectacles and VR paint guns for realistic simulation of the painting process.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Lexus Goes to a Dark Place with Special Edition LX

Lexus Goes to a Dark Place with Special Edition LX

PLANO, Texas (October 31, 2018) – The LX is more than just a luxury SUV. It’s an inspiration for those who desire a higher-level driving experience. Already equipped for the road with high quality materials and exhilarating performance, this luxury SUV takes all the worry out of decision-making.    
In November, Lexus will introduce the next exclusive designed model in the Inspiration Series. The LX features a stealth Black Onyx exterior that rides high on 21-inch black alloy wheels and center caps. This new beauty also leads with a black front grille and dark chrome surround.
The LX is also enhanced with black trim for the headlamps, foglights and windows along with smoked headlamp lenses.  The rear of this flagship SUV continues the black theme with black chrome accents for the taillamps, license plate and back door.
An exclusive Moonlight White Semi-Aniline Leather Trim with a black headliner complement the black exterior. To help complete the thoughtfully crafted luxury SUV, the carpet, cargo mats and key gloves all provide unique finish to the interior.

All LX Inspiration Series come with heated and ventilated front and second-row outboard seats. The Climate Concierge feature automatically monitors the temperature of the four separate climate zones and adjusts not only the fans, but also the temperature of the seats and steering wheel. In addition, the “LX” projector door lamps round out this Luxury package.
Every LX Inspiration Series also includes the following features: Rear Seat Entertainment System, 19-speaker, 450-watt Mark Levinson®1 Reference Surround Sound audio system and Color Head-Up Display (HUD).
In addition, a Cool box, wireless charger and heated wood & leather-trimmed steering wheel complete the package.
Available just in time for the winter holidays, only 500 luxury owners will be able to drive the exclusive LX Inspiration Series home. It will go on sale with a starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $100,420.
Like all LX 570s, the LX Inspiration Series is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 engine with 383 horsepower and 403 lb.-ft. of torque available at 3,600 rpm. Equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission, the LX is capable of towing up to 7,000-lbs.

Adapts to Any Terrain
The LX’s sturdy body-on-frame structure is combined with a multi-terrain system to enhance the driver’s control over challenging, varied landscapes. The system adapts to five different types of terrain — Rock, Rock and Dirt, Mogul, Loose Rock and Mud and Sand.
Low-range gearing provides slow-speed crawling capability for handling steep off-road hills and uneven terrain.  Driver’s also get additional support from the LX’s innovative Crawl Control system that is fortified with Turn Assist, Hill-Start Assist Control and Variable Gear Ratio Steering.

Total Visibility
Drivers are armed with the standard Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA). To help keep the driver’s eyes on the road, the LX puts more information directly in line of sight with a Color Head-Up Display (HUD) on the windshield. This system shows the vehicle speed, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control information icons and Intuitive Park Assist.
Peace of Mind
The LX Inspiration gets the standard Lexus Safety System+ that includes Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Intelligent High-Beam headlamps and All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
Staying Connected
A 12.3-inch navigation display with Remote Touch Interface (RTI) heads a list of multimedia and connectivity features that keep the LX on the cutting edge of user tech. The multimedia display screen can be split into three sections to show different functions, such as navigation, audio and climate control information.
“It’s always our goal to exceed our guests’ expectations,” said David Christ, group vice president and general manager, Lexus division. “We expect the LX Inspiration Series to continue that tradition with its customized features.  We look forward to this new addition to the lineup and are excited for our guests to Experience Amazing.”  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Dear Hugh Hefner, I’m Sorry I Snuck Into Your House

Dear Hugh Hefner, I’m Sorry I Snuck Into Your House
by Marrs

It was the spring of 2002 and I was entertaining visitors from Canada who were guests in my home in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles. While coming back from a late lunch, our mutual attention was grabbed by a new Bentley Arnage outfitted with “Gumball 3000” decals and emblazoned with sponsors, followed closely by a likewise-liveried Ferrari, then another exotic and another followed until this less-than-subtle convoy passed by completely. My guests had no idea what was going on as I whipped my supercharged Mercedes W202 around right there in the middle of Hollywood Blvd., and gave chase. We didn't travel far, stopping at a hotel near the Hollywood & Highland shopping mall at that same storied intersection. We parked and approached a large group of douchily-dressed Eurotrash and new-monied young Americans, who began surrounding a table helmed by a serious-looking woman with a clipboard. Clipboards are never good people. 

One of my friends snagged a pamphlet from the table and we soon realized we were at the very last stop of that year’s Gumball 3000 cross-country rally, this one from NYC to LA, and here we observed preparations for the teams to receive their invites to the closing event to be held at the Playboy Mansion. The pamphlet turned out to be the official route book, issued to every team, and each contained a page for every stop along the way where the route book would receive an official stamp indicating the successful completion of that stage. Without ALL of these stamps, there was no entry to the party.

At the time, I was working with a Director friend on various types of documentaries, ranging from band expose´s to following around crime scene cleanup crews, so the concept of making our way past those infamous Playboy Mansion gates to record the debauchery within, even in a less-than-authorized manner, was an overwhelming urge. I called my Director buddy, (I’ll use initials only for the sake of their privacy) “V”, and another friend, “R”, who I knew as a McGuyver-like entity from my younger days who could sham, scam, or scheme his way into anywhere. While V worked to assemble the necessary camera and sound equipment, R arrived at the hotel and we begun to plot out entry into this party.

In short order, we had a plan. I walked up to the table lady and asked for my credentials, with R standing just behind her and peeking over her shoulder. As she searched the list for my name, he scanned the pages for a name he could make out and remember. After a few minutes she apologized but dismissed me as unwelcome without being on the sacred list. I sulked but walked away, knowing we already had a path forward. I reconvened with R on the sidelines and he gave me the name of some reporter he noticed on the “Press” list, which was perfect since we would be carrying around cameras and a boom mic. One major problem still stood in our way, we didn't have the stamps. R said, “I’ve got this” and disappeared for about an hour while I waited for V to arrive with our equipment.

Our Canadian guests were taken back to my place where they would be less bored, and more importantly, where they could act as our “get out of jail” card should things go totally sideways. Would the Hollywood police station even accept Monopoly money? 

By this time, shuttle buses were arriving to take guests the 20-minute drive to the far end of Beverly Hills where the Mansion sits, bordering Bel Air, and just as we began to wonder if this was going to even work at all, R showed up with a smile as big as the Hollywood Hills themselves. He proudly opened the route book to show that it was now completely stamped from beginning to end. I asked how the Hell did he manage this trick and he producer a large art eraser that he had meticulously carved into the shape of the official seal, broke open several various colored ink pens, and then used their contents to stamp each page with the correct color. Damn, was he ever the man for this job! 
This time V approached and used the booklet to obtain passes for us, acting as the camera and sound guys, and even managed to grab a coveted third invite for our “field producer.”

We boarded the shuttle van without incident, and thankfully the rally participants were already too far down the path of intoxication to note our presence, busy boasting, catcalling other attendees, and generally speaking far louder than they realized as rich, drunk assholes are wont to do. 

As we passed through the heavily secured gates of the Playboy Mansion the air of infamy set upon us as the main house came into view, elegantly lighted on a warm spring evening. We disembarked up front where a semi-circle of exotics bordered a massive fountain, and walked through a patio area towards the famous Grotto where the sound of music and cast of multi-colored lights lured us. On the way, Steve-O, still riding high at the time as a star of MTV’s Jackass show, saw our cameras and couldn’t resist talking to us. R, V, and I all looked at one-another and we powered up our equipment and started to film. “This is it, we’re doing this” I thought to myself. Steve-O was pretty trashed already and proceeded to explain to us that “the only thing better then being invited to the Playboy Mansion was getting kicked out of the Playboy Mansion.” I don’t know how all that worked out for him. 

We moved ahead, spotting big stars and unknowns alike who perfectly captured the popular cultural tone of the era (Matthew McConaughey, Rachael Hunter, Donna Karen who made the cross-continental trek in a specially prepped Checker Cab in full NYC livery), while large-tittied women bounced around as participating men covered their awkward boners. Clothing was piled up outside the hidden Grotto pool area, who’s main access door was now shut so that the den of decadence was only accessible by swimming under a concrete span. We opted against this for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was a fear of getting stranger’s semen in our equipment and faces. 
As V filmed and I ran sound, R wandered the property. We would bump into each other throughout the evening and R explained how he happened across the private zoo that Hef maintained and we wandered around as much as we could get away with, just making it into the house to ummm, look for the bathroom, before being politely ushered back out with a stern but helpful, “the party is this way sir.”

We ate some food, filmed some fools, and surprisingly started to become rather bored. The Playboy Mansion, from what we encountered, was much like Hugh Hefner himself; old, tired, outdated, with only just enough maintenance to keep it from ceasing to exist altogether. We were fairly unimpressed and decided we had the footage and experience we had hoped for and so grabbed the next shuttle ride back to the hotel.

The footage? Well we never really got enough to do anything with it, let alone the fact that we didn't have releases signed by the attendees, so it made it’s way to V’s Director’s Reel and that’s about it. The story has lived on however, famously so among my friends and acquaintances, and the one you’re reading now was inspired by one of those visiting Canadians at that time, who texted me the day after Hef died and said, “sorry about your good friend Mr. Hefner.” 

So, if you’re seeing this Hef, I am sorry for sneaking into your home, but I feel like you would have appreciated the effort it took to do so.

All Photos: Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Mystery Files: The Case of the Speed Champ’s Missing Head

Mystery Files: The Case of the Speed Champ’s Missing Head
by Marrs

“Full nose up… Pitching a bit down here… coming through our own wash… and we're tramping like mad… I can't see much and the water's very bad indeed… I’m galloping over the top… I can't see anything… I've got the bows out… I'm going…”


These were the last words transmitted over the radio by world speed record holder Donald Campbell, just moments before his untimely, and tragically violent, death 50-years ago in a specially built speedboat named “Bluebird K7.” If the surname “Campbell” sounds familiar to you as it pertains to motorsport, that’s very likely because Donald’s father, Sir Malcolm Campbell, is regarded as one of the innovators of speed record attempts, himself holding the title for multiple early and famous runs in the original Bluebird series of similarly-liveried vehicles.

On the early morning of January 4th, 1967, Campbell was suited up in his familiar blue coveralls, ready to complete his latest water speed record attempt at a 5-1/2 mile long lake in Cumbria, England, named Coniston Water. This would not be the first time either Campbell, father or son, had made use of the long and still waters Coniston offered. Both had made multiple runs over many previous years setting records and testing vehicles on the predictably mirror-like surface.

At 8:45am Campbell started up the powerful Bristol Orpheus jet engine, one repurposed from a Folland Gnat fighter aircraft, that produced an astounding 4,500 lb/ft of thrust. He completed his first run with no problems, apparently having resolved issues with the fuel pump on previous attempts. He achieved 285 mph by the time he reached the first marker buoy, and then leaving the measured kilometer 7-1/2 seconds later at a speed in excess of 310 mph, reaching an average top speed of 297.6 mph. Normally, Campbell would then throttle down and turn around, drifting slowly or even refueling while waiting for the lake’s surface to calm once again before starting off on a return run, but for some reason, this time, he simply spun K7 about and smashed the throttle after only a few moments pause. Witnesses described the scene as one of sheer power, with camera crews were set up along the route to record the day’s events for posterity, unaware that that they were but seconds away from capturing one of motorsports greatest tragedies.

As K7 initiated it's return run, the familiar “comet tail” of water spray, forced up by the powerful jet engine, made for the clearest marker of Campbell’s progress as he reached a speed of 328 mph. Observers in a course boat at one end noticed the front of K7 begin to lift, revealing more and more air space between the hull and the water, and as the nose bounced and bobbed. The longest bounce saw a rapid deceleration from 328 mph to 296 mph while out of the water, pulling almost negative 2g’s in the process. The engine flamed out, with the resulting loss of thrust lifting the nose upwards, disturbing the flow of water around the sponsons and hull, and allowing for the boat to aerodynamically lift from the lake and begin to cartwheel through the air. The first full rotation ended with the K7 landing hard on her port sponson, ripping the boat in two as it continued flipping end-over-end across the water, destroying itself in the process. Campbell’s helmet, along with several larger, more buoyant, pieces of the K7 Bluebird, as well as Campbell’s good luck charm, a plush teddy bear named Mr. Whoppit, were all that could be recovered from the water that day. Nether the bulk of the hull, nor, more importantly, the remains of Donald Campbell himself, would be recovered for another 3-1/2 decades.

In 2001 a recovery effort was made to locate and raise the K7, with the hope of also finding Campbell’s remains, tho this was considered unlikely at the time, and in fact, even tho the majority of K7 would be identified and raised on this expedition, his body would not be found until the following year. Campbell’s own sister, Jean Wales, was said to be opposed to recovering his body as it is claimed he said to her, “skipper and boat stay together” should anything unfortunate ever happen to him. The K7 itself was donated by the Campbell family to the Ruskin Museum in Coniston in December 2006, where it is presently undergoing a full restoration back to running order for short jaunts of up to 65-mph or so for exhibitions. Just recently, in November 2016, it's engine was fired up again for the first time since the recovery that saw it's engine being fired up for the first time since it’s recovery from the dark lake bed.

Campbell’s remains were interred in Coniston Cemetery on September 12, 2001, but the event was overshadowed in the press by the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon the day prior. An inquest into Campbell’s death came about in 2002, for the stated purpose “to determine the identity of the deceased, where and when he died, and the cause of death.” As the answers to most of these questions were already known, it was really just a matter of “how” Campbell died.

One witness, Mr. Bill Smith, who acted as a dive team leader during the recovery process, narrated a video tape at the inquest showing several items strewn across the muddy lake bed. Among them were loose change, a St. Christopher’s pendant (ironically, these are worn to ward off dangers while traveling), a cigarette lighter inscribed with an image of the Bluebird, and a key fob, all grouped together. Nearby they found what was left of Campbell’s body, and after spending three and a half decades underwater, it was described as “skeletal.” The remains were still draped in pieces of blue cloth from his coveralls with the elastic waistband and belt buckle still intact. It was noted that, oddly, his skull was not found among the remains. Smith explained that these remains were respectfully placed inside a container and brought to the surface.

Dr. Wendy Blundell, the pathologist responsible for examining Campbell's remains, described the trauma of the event in harrowing detail. Multiple bones were broken by the ferocity of the boat’s high-speed impact with the water’s surface, but even those that appeared intact were found to be fractured internally upon being examined under an X-ray. The intact left femur gave evidence that the right side of his body took the brunt of the impact, where the shattered bones bore witness to the massive forces at work during the crash. Perhaps most shocking was the revelation that Campbell was fully decapitated by the jagged edges of the broken Perspex (ie: plexiglass) windscreen as his body was propelled forward into the bulkhead by the crushing force of the blow. His empty helmet was recovered the day of the crash but his skull has never been found, and is presumed to still lay at the bottom of the lake. Considering that not all the various smaller bits of K7 were, nor are they likely to ever be, recovered, it is fitting perhaps that some part of Donald Campbell also remain at the bottom of Water Coniston, “skipper and boat stay together” after all.


Visit the official restoration blog for K7 to stay up to date on the latest developments concerning the boat's restoration.

Images via Wikimedia creative commons license, courtesy "Sheppane" except memorial stone image by "Thruxton."

donald campbell, crash, accident, death, speed record, malcolm campbell, coniston, motoarigato, photos, video, film, decapitated, beheaded, k7, bluebird, water coniston

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Cars of Good Burger

The Cars of Good Burger
by Marrs

There are a handful of films in cinema history that are remembered almost exclusively for the cars that were featured in them... Bullit. The French Connection. Gone In Sixty Seconds. Good Burger. The Italian Job. You get the idea, each one is a suitable candidate for the Criterion Collection treatment. I’m singling out one of these today because, while just as beloved by car culture afficianados as the rest, this film has somehow escaped the detailed analysis of it's vehicular cast that every other film has been subjected to in the years since their releases. Please join me as we explore… The Cars of Good Burger.

Good Burger is a 1997 teen comedy that tells the story of Ed (Kel Mitchell), a seemingly slow-witted but well-meaning teenager who works at a local burger joint, and Dexter (Kenan Thompson) who gets a new summer job at the same place in order to pay down a debt he owes one of his Hgh School teachers for damaging his car in an early on-screen escapade. It gets pretty ridiculous from there, and be forewarned it's a spinoff from a Nickelodeon series, but it’s arguably more entertaining when translated to the big screen.

I already knew the Producers were gear heads when I saw a gold-hued Mercedes W123 sedan quickly roll past in the background as Ed first opens the front doors of Good Burger. In filmmaking, things like this are never left to chance, on a controlled street shoot every vehicle would have been specifically chosen ahead of time, rented from a “Movie Car” supplier of choice, delivered via flatbed trucks, equipped with a driver, prepped, cued, and filmed as part of that sequence.

Only minutes later we see Dexter driving a red 1995 Nissan 300zx 2+2 that is quickly identified as being “borrowed” from his mother when his friend in the passenger seat asks, “She let’s you drive this when she’s out of town?” to Dexter's curt reply, “Nope!”

Shortly after, and while driving exactly like you would expect a pre-licensed teenager to drive such a vehicle, Dexter is forced to suddenly swerve to avoid hitting a kid on in-line skates (who we can see is Ed, but Dexter only realizes this later in the film after befriending him) and crashes into the black 1993 Infiniti J30 being piloted by one of his teachers, Mr. Wheat (Sinbad).

We will take pause here to acknowledge & honor Sinbad’s wardrobe in this movie, a light handed pastiche of 70’s-ish style but perpetrated almost entirely our of what looks like an adult Halloween Hippie costume you’d find at Parties Are Us World. His tunic is further embellished with sequins and hand-Sharpied™ with an upside down peace symbol & random phrases in the least professional bit of costuming you’re likely to see this side of a regional children’s theatre production. It really goes over-the-top in that way that kids and stoners mutually enjoy, and perfectly complements Sinbad’s laugh line, ““Brother Reed, you have messed up my Afro!”

After Sinbad explains that, “This is a $22,000 car!” Dexter is forced into a deal whereby he has to get a summer job at the same Good Burger where Ed works, while still not realising Ed was the cause of this whole mess to begin with, in order to raise the funds to pay for the repairs.

While Dexter is at Good Burger applying for a job, the Manager Mr. Bailey (Dan Schneider) asks, “Any accidents on your record?” to which Dexter slyly responds, “Not to your knowledge.” Genius.

The lines delivered throughout this film are truly worthy of recognition, such is their perfection. Among my favorites is the interaction between Ed and Dexter when Dexter is told he needs to drive the Burgermobile to make deliveries. “Think you can handle it?” Ed asks… Dexter responds, “I don't know, I’ve never driven a sandwich before.”

The Burgermobile itself is a thing of wonder and amazement. A 1976 AMC Pacer outfitted in the propmaster’s best including a burger and onion motif, with pickle slices as wheel covers and french fries for bumpers and wiper arms, it's really right up there with the Bladerunner Police Spinner design in terms of reverence among the film’s fans.

Interestingly, the Burger Museum in Daytona Beach, Florida now owns the original Burger Mobile and is seeking donations for it's restoration.

Right at the 22:00 minute mark there is a transition cut where we see a small white car driving slowly past Good Burger, but I have not been able to identify it. It looks oddly Japanese AND British in styling, or maybe even Australian??? Help me out?

(UPDATE: Our own Evan Paul identified the mystery car as a Fit 124 Sport Coupe, well done!)

A few moments later comes another terrific scene, where the acting would bring even Michael Caine to his knees, when Spatch the cook is inspecting a rival burger from the new place opening across the street, he jabs his spatula beneath the patty, lifts it's obvious mass with some difficulty and watches in shame as it's heft starts to bend the handle, turns in agony and self-defeat, grunting displeasure with both the circumstances and his own inadequacies, vocalizing in Chewbacca-like tones as he exits the scene. The role of “Spatch” was played by Ron Lester, who later famously starred in Varsity Blues and passed away in June of 2016.

Directly afterwards comes this classic exchange among the staff,
“How do they do it?!?!”
“They just use more meat.”
“Awwww, poor cows.”
“I can always feed my mother cat food.”

Also, what’s up with the song that goes “feel my desire…” randomly showing up throughout the movie in the most random spots??? Maybe it's the Wilhelm Scream of this particular film.

Later, the boys confiscate a Divco Ice Cream truck for yet another madcap street mauling.

When it's all said and done and the evil guys from the rival Mondo Burger get shut down and all the baddies are arrested, Sinbad delivers his estimate to Dexter for final compensation, and just as all seems ready to be tied up in a nice little package of resolution, the giant Hamburger mascot falls from the roof and crushes Sinbad’s freshly restored Infinity.

Good Burger has a 63% Rotten Tomatoes audience score (fuck the critic’s paltry 32% rating, what movie WERE they watching???). It was rather appropriately filmed in West Covina, California, which, if you know the areas around LA, it fits rather well the “built in the 90’s” suburbia-dreamscape that matches the film's aesthetic.

Good Burger man, Good Burger.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Whazzit? Aluminum Abomination Edition

Whazzit? Aluminum Abomination Edition
by Marrs

In the late 1950's the Olin Aluminum Corporation was seeking relevant new ways to advertise the strength and other advantageous qualities of aluminum in American industry. One rather exciting, if not forgotten, example was the 1959 Scimitar model lineup of three cars penned by noted industrial designer Brooks Stevens that made heavy use of the alloy in the vehicle's bumpers, wheels covers, trim, interior accessories and bodywork quarter panels.

In theory, the design was intended to add corrosion-resistant aluminum to the places where car bodies tend to rust from salty winter slush. On all three cars, everything silver is anodized aluminum while everything painted black is pressed steel.

A coupe, sedan, and station wagon of similar design were all built on 1959 Chrysler Newport chassis' and displayed, first at the Geneva Motor Show in 1959, and again at the International Automobile Show in New York before traveling to other cities including Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and many others throughout the next three years.

The coupe featured a novel automatic retracting hardtop that disappeared behind a large trunk panel in the tradition of the Ford Skyliner.

The sedan featured removable roof panels that, likewise, created a feeling of open-air luxury similar to a traditional landau let format, according to Stevens in his own words during an interview granted to Special Interest Auto Magazine in 1992, "that one had a retractable front roof over the chauffeur's compartment that slid into the rear roof. Then the deck opened and swallowed the entire combination of roofs into the trunk." The wagon variant featured a sliding rear roof panel akin to those fitted to the Studebaker Wagonaire of the era, also designed by Stevens.  

The oddball design was never adopted by any manufacturer for production, nor were they intended to be, serving purely as a "vehicle" to promote aluminum in manufacturing. Stevens re-purchased the coupe/convertible from a dealer 10-years later and owned it up until his death in 1992, and it is believed this car, as well as the sedan, are held in the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, CA. The wagon is still on display at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV.

brooks stevens, grand wagoneer, studebaker, wagonaire, olin, aluminum, car show, auto show, demo, industrial designer, scimitar, station wagon, retractable hardtop, reno, nevada, harsh, national automobile museum, 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Rare Bentley Empress by Hooper For Sale In San Diego

Here's a car that is as polarizing of opinions as it is rare, the Hooper-bodied Empress II based on a Bentley Turbo R. The original ad includes a good amount of detail on the original build so we're including it below.

During the time this car was originally on offer, Hooper only made four models, this one, an extended wheelbase limousine in various configurations, a two-door Silver Spirit, and a two-door Turbo R. The Empress II was the only car to receive a fully reworked body whereas the others made due with lengthening or shortening of the chassis and relevant door sections.

The original invoice shown below indicates a total cost of exactly $500,000, broken down into two charges, one of $90,000 for the Turbo R upon which the car was based, and an astonishing $410,000 for the conversion process. It further indicates a total build time of 8-months from order date of June 1st, 1990 to delivery or March 1st, 1991.

Sure it's expensive at $175,000, but where are you gonna find another one?

1990 BENTLEY Hooper Empress II Blue/Blue 

"This is an extremely rare Bentley Hooper Empress, 1 of only 6 made.
Based on the Turbo R, this Bentley is striking and refined.

These were $650,000 when new (which equates to approximately $1,000,000 in today's money!)

It started life as a U.S. spec Turbo R before being commissioned by Hooper & Co. to do the 500,000 pound conversion for it's then Japanese Dr. owner.

It has been maintained extremely well and drives as it should, and very strong.

- Clean & Clear CA Title
- Dark Blue exterior with Dark Blue Connelly Leather interior
- 6.75L Turbo V8
- Automatic Transmission
- Hooper Convertsion (500,000 pounds): Opera rear window, Red 'B' logo,Glass solar protected fixed panel over front seats,
Stainless steel wheel arch surrounds thin style, body sills, infills to front and rear bumpers and rear light, rear number plate surround, sill plate "European Carriage House & Hooper", Bumper and wipers painted in black, Chrome alloy wheels, Front spoiler colour keyed to body colour, Badge bar, Hooper style console fitted between front seats with rolls top to rear of console, finished in black leather, Cocktail cabinet fitted between rear seats housing, two cut glass decanters, one ice bucket and four cut glass drinking tumblers, with mirrors illuminated when lid opened, Hallmarked sterling silver ladies vanity unit, accessories by the Queens Jewelers Asprey of London, Alpine all-in-one CD & radio cassette, multi change CD in boot compartment with remote control, 2 x 3554 amplifier, cassette storage to both door panels.

If you are a Bentley fan or looking for something very unique and majestic, this is a great choice."

(Photos/text: Copyright; Vehicle Owner)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Land Cruiser Owners- Making Oddball Vehicles Even Odder

Land Cruiser Owners- Making Oddball Vehicles Even Odder

-by Marrs

Update: I've added even more weird Cruisers!

If you have every gotten excited over any sort of offroad vehicle then you probably know exactly what the Toyota Land Cruiser is... the King of This Dirt Planet. The early generations of Land Cruisers were simple and indestructible, but as time and buyer tastes evolved Toyota had to up their game in terms of ride quality, interiors, and bells & whistles. This came about with the Lexus version of the 80-series, named the LX 450, which was coincidentally Lexus' first-ever SUV. Next came the 100-series, the first Land Cruiser that was arguably designed from the ground up with not only mudding and forging capabilities baked in, but also a high standard of luxury even in "base" form considering that the only real options were a sunroof and night vision. Lexus made an even more luxurious version of this rig called the LX 470 owing to it's 4.7 litre V8 shared with the Tundra pickup. By 2008 the 200-series (and LX 570) came onto the scene and improved the ride and overall luxury quotient by adding things like crawl assist and a center mounted cooler for beverages and cocaine.

Even with all of these electronic assists and unmatched offroad prowess, owners still discovered ways to "improve" on the classic rig. The limits of the human brain are few when it comes to vehicle modification so sit back, grab a high ABV beer to sooth the pain or perhaps to accelerate the joy, and enjoy all that is a custom Land Cruiser/Lexus LX.

(Full disclosure. I recently acquired a 2004 LX 470 and the joy of ownership has made me so giddy that Land Cruisers are literally all I can think about anymore. Friend: "Where do you want to go eat?"  Me: "Land Cruisers!" Friend: "Did you get tickets for the movie yet?" Me: "Land Cruisers!")

Back To Top
Distributed By Blogger Templates | Designed By OddThemes