The Way We Look At Cars

March 6, 2021 by  
Filed under Everything About Cars

Although in real terms it is just a means of traveling, the car has taken on a completely iconic role in modern life. For some people, a car is just a car, a conveyance to get you from A to B, and maybe on to C if you are feeling adventurous. For many others, though, a car is as defining a symbol as any other, and says a lot about the person driving it.

Many people purchase a car with this in mind – sitting behind the wheel of a particular car is endlessly interwoven with status. For some people, the first thing they will do when they become definably rich is to buy the car of their dreams. Look at the players’ car park at any major sporting stadium and you will get an idea of how significant this is.

The car has had a fairly major role to play in popular culture. Particularly in cop shows and movies, the car that a central character drives will have as much significance for the viewer as the character’s wife and family and indeed the place where the show is set. Just look at the Dukes of Hazzard and Starsky and Hutch for two examples of how iconic a TV car can become.

It could be said that we fetishise the car in Western society. It is definitely true that we make a big thing out of the kind of car someone drives. Frequently, a politician will even be judged on the car they drive – is it made domestically, does it get decent gas mileage, what are my taxes paying for? The car is a source of endless fascination even for those who do not drive.

A Touch Of Art – The Art Car

February 27, 2021 by  
Filed under Everything About Cars

Can a car be a work of art? There are some who would suggest that the best automobiles out there are an example of art at its most practical. A lot of design goes into making a car aerodynamic and aesthetically pleasing, and fans of sports cars will often make the point that the car gets high speeds and performs well while looking beautiful enough to be exhibited in a museum.

The idea of a car as art has been taken to greater lengths by the art car movement, who take no chances with the aesthetic beauty of the original models by making additions that turn the car into something completely different. The movement is particularly strong in areas such as Houston and Minneapolis, with Houston being home to the world’s first Art Car Museum.

Seen by many as the father of the Art Car movement, Harrod Blank has made a number of films about the Art Car as well as writing books and articles, running a blog and curating the Art Car Fest, an art-car based parade held in the San Francisco bay area once a year and also has a hand in an art car camp at the Burning Man festival in Nevada.

To make an art car, all you need is a car, an idea and the materials to make it come to life. Of course, if you want the car to be road legal you need to make sure that it adheres to the laws that govern the roads you are driving on. Ideally, this means nothing blocking the driver’s sight line and nothing that makes the vehicle unstable.

Which Nation Makes The Best Cars?

February 20, 2021 by  
Filed under Everything About Cars

A common discussion among motoring aficionados is the one about which country produces the best vehicles. Of course, it is a subjective argument. One person may have different views about what actually makes for the best car, and their preference may be reflected by a choice of cars from a specific nation.

Someone who likes efficiency in their automobiles will be likely to wave the flag for Germany. The country’s most noted manufacturers – BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz among them – are a byword for sleek class and reliability. Then again, you may be bored by efficiency and want a bit more bang for your buck, which may lead you to the Italian manufacturers such as Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Of course, there are certain anomalies which make it difficult to ascribe any specific characteristic to all a nation’s cars. Germany did, after all, produce the Porsche and Italy the Fiat. Some people will say that the best nation of car manufacturers is neither of these two, pointing to France’s fine track record with Citroen and Renault among others.

As two of the world’s predominant cultural influences, we might expect the US and the UK to be big hitters in the car industry, but it would be a stretch to put them up there with the aforementioned. Of the more recent arrivals on the scene, Japan has some fine manufacturers – but for most people it will come down to Germany vs Italy. A quick look at the grid for a Formula One race will back this up.

Racing For Sport – Formula One Motor Racing

February 13, 2021 by  
Filed under Things You Should Know...

The single word “car” can be used to describe any one of a number of different kinds of vehicle, from the comfortable family sedan to the armored people carrier, and indeed to the sports cars that are driven around tracks by professional drivers. You’ll never see a Formula One car on a public road outside of special circumstances, but it’s a car all right.

The Formula One car has little in common with a road legal vehicle. The shape is different – it is much lower and more aerodynamically proportioned. It is as small as it can safely be while containing a driver and the necessary safety features, and it is built for high speeds – faster than any road legal car.

The best Formula One drivers over the years have been the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Gilles Villeneuve, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. Although in many cases, these drivers have been helped by having the best car on the circuit, an uncommon level of skill and determination to win has set these men apart. Senna was tragically killed while competing in the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994, but statistically Formula One has had a low level of fatalities for all the speed of the races.

Formula One is similar in many ways to its American cousin, Indycar racing. However, it is felt that the drivers at Formula One level are slightly more technically gifted and the cars more conducive to fast lapping than Indycars. Many young Indycar drivers will make a move to Formula One after succeeding in the States, while few will move the other way.

Drinking And Driving – It’s Never OK

February 5, 2021 by  
Filed under Everything About Cars

One of the most troubling issues regarding motoring, in any country, is that of people driving their cars while under the influence of alcohol. The laws governing acceptable drinking and driving differ in many countries, but just about every country in the world has a law regarding drinking and driving. The base point seems to be that it is something you just should not do.

The problem with drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a car is that alcohol impairs reaction times and judgement. Many people will utter the oft-heard sentence “Well, I actually drive better when I have had a few.”. Even if this is objectively true, and it rarely is, it fails to take into account the fact that other drivers use the road too.

Therefore, a driver who is technically intoxicated may be in better control of their own vehicle than you might expect, but their reaction times will be compromised. Therefore, if another road user has a problem which outs other drivers at risk, the driver who has had a few drinks will be less likely to succeed in pulling a manoeuvre that avoids a crash.

There can be any number of debating points made about the safety or otherwise of drinking and driving, but the key point is that if you make a mistake or are unable to perform a safety manoeuvre because your judgement is impaired by alcohol, you are at least partially responsible for the crash. So if you are out drinking, leave the car at home.

Your Dream Drive – What Makes The Perfect Car?

January 29, 2021 by  
Filed under Everything About Cars

The discussion of what is the best car in the world is a pretty futile one unless you lay down certain parameters as to what the “best” really is. Do we mean the one that moves fastest, the one that looks best or the one which lasts the longest? These are just three criteria which can either be the most important or entirely irrelevant, depending upon your point of view.

For some people, the best car is the one that runs the most smoothly. Some cars, though technically excellent and pleasant to look at, have just one small fault which dogs the driver from the moment they take it home to the day they trade it in. The fault may not even be a particularly severe one, but if it keeps happening it can make the car impossible to run.

For those of an environmental frame of mind, the kind of gas mileage the car gets is also important. Many sports cars are beautiful to look at and purr like a tiger when they are on the open road, but they require refuelling so often that they are impossible to run economically and ecologically. A less “exciting” car that gets more mileage for a full tank of gas will be less likely to send you crazy.

Sometimes, the dream car is one that you just fall in love with for no reason that can be easily explained. From childhood, many of us see a car just once and think that we will be truly happy the day we can drive it off a forecourt. Sometimes, we need to be careful what we wish for.

Road Safety: Kill Your Speed, Not A Person

January 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Everything About Cars

Laws governing drivers are often controversial, as one driver may be more skilful than others and less likely to make mistakes that will cause danger to other road users. This leads to the situation where a driver will say “I don’t see why I should be penalised because I’m a better driver than someone else”. To which the only reaction is: Sit down, shut up and deal with it.

This may be seen as an authoritarian response to a fair point, but the issue here is that a law must apply to everyone (within reason) in order to be in any way enforceable. If you happen to be really good at controlling a car even at high speeds, then pat yourself on the back and enjoy the adulation – but the fact is that in residential areas and other spots with high traffic, it is dangerous to drive above a certain speed.

We all like traveling at higher speeds. For one thing, it gets us where we are going in less time. But it does not take a scientist to recognise that a car traveling at 50 mph will do more damage to anything or anyone it hits than one traveling at 30. You can be as careful and as skilful as you like, but things happen in split seconds, and a line needs to be drawn somewhere.

Some countries have no speed restrictions on their motorways, highways or autobahns, and this can work well in practice, but there is a necessity to keep speeds to a reasonable level on roads that are not designed for high speeds.

Cash For Clunkers: Trading In An Older Car For Cash

January 15, 2021 by  
Filed under Everything About Cars

Cars are like people, in many ways. They need to have the proper care taken of them and to be treated in a certain way if they are to keep running smoothly. The longer they are in service, the more likely they will be to develop faults. Eventually, they need to be retired before they do some harm to themselves or others.

Numerous governments are now creating schemes whereby an older car can be traded in for money against the purchase of a new one. The thinking behind this is that older cars are both less safe and worse for the environment than newer ones, and the government can save money on future environmental protection by spending a small amount of money up front to ensure cleaner air.

The benefit for the motorist who trades in their car is that they save money on a newer car which they might otherwise not have been able to afford. It is an incentive which works to reduce the amount of pollution in the air and make the roads safer. The cash paid for the older cars, too, can be recouped in scrap costs and recycling.

There is some amount of controversy over such programs, with people arguing that it is a waste of government money that could be better spent elsewhere or not spent at all. In the end, any such program is best judged by its success, and these programs have been judged successful on balance. How often they will be repeated in future will depend on the economic climate.

Luxury Cars: The Bugatti Veyron

January 8, 2021 by  
Filed under Everything About Cars

Ask around a number of car aficionados to find out which vehicle they would most like to have in their garage, and a suitably large number will state that the Bugatti Veyron is a very strong contender. It is not difficult to see why – the car itself looks like a sleek monster, and that’s before the key goes anywhere near the ignition.

What really sets the Veyron apart from any other car, apart from its million-dollar price tag, is the insane top speed of more than 267 miles per hour. This is a speed that can of course only be reached on particularly long stretches of open road, such as a race track, but the Veyron is a road-legal car, and its performance even at that high speed is noted as being incredibly stable.

The popular UK TV series Top Gear dubbed the original Veyron, with its comparatively slow top speed of nearly 254 mph, as the Car of the Decade. One of the few cars universally loved by all three presenters of the show (who disagree more than they agree), the Veyron is a brainchild of the German Volkswagen group and features ten radiators, sixteen valves, and more than a thousand horsepower.

The higher-end Veyron Super Sport clocks in at a price tage of $2,700,000/£1,665,000, meaning that as far as it being the ideal car goes, it is more or less a hypothetical issue for most of us. However, for those who are able to spend that kind of money on a car, the 0-60 speed of just two and a half seconds has to be something of a coup.

The Environmental Issue Of Motoring

January 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Everything About Cars

There are people among the environmental movement who will flat-out forswear ever driving a car because of the cost to the planet. It can admittedly be taxing on the environment to run a car, be it because of the fumes that are passed through the exhaust or the toll taken on the planet to build and fuel the car.

Most environmentalists will, however, reach some sort of compromise which entails driving a car that is more green than others. The first thing to look for in this respect is fuel economy. A car which gives you more miles per gallon of fuel will be more friendly to the environment, as the use of fossil fuels takes a toll on the planet.

In this light, it may be worth looking at some of the hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicles on the market. As the environmental movement grows in size and strength, these cars are becoming more prominent and choice is becoming greater. Some interesting new developments are taking place in the alternative fuels market, and these may make it more economical and more “green” to drive.

Sometimes, the deal with automobiles and the environment is not so much what you drive as how often you drive it. If you don’t need to drive and the weather is good, walking can be pretty good fun anyway. Obviously, this is hardly going to win around the most hardened enviroskeptic, but when you realise that the trade-off is “fewer journeys = better performance” it’s something to hold on to.

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