Archive for Driver’s Seat

More wee wheels

This is apparently a glance at the future Infiniti QX30:

Teaser for Infiniti QX30

A cousin to the Mercedes-Benz GLA, this little wagonlet is supposed to slot in under the QX50, which used to be the EX35. I expect a turbo four, and maybe a diesel, instead of the V6s farther up the line. And I figure both this and the QX50 will be uncomfortably close to $40k once I start shopping again.

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iWheels

Yours truly, mid-2006:

[B]y now everybody knows the joke about how if Microsoft built cars, they would run only on MS-GAS, and they would crash twice a day for no apparent reason.

(We will not discuss Bill Gates’ desire to reinvent the toilet.)

Now, all of a sudden, everyone is talking Apple as carmaker, presumably as rival to Google, and this is the new joke:

Windows vs. Apple cars

At least you can replace the battery on the Windowsmobile.

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But no commute

Oh, my, here’s another appeal to one’s kindness gullibility:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: My mother and I need a new car, but can't afford one. How do we get a new car on a tight budget? (We don't trust used ones.)

Perhaps this may have occurred to you:

If so, be assured that they find your lack of sympathy disturbing:

My mother and I have health problems that make it hard to fulfill any commitments to a boss.

We’ve had people like that before. They didn’t stay long, for obvious reasons. And the bus stops right in front of the office, too.

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Gee, your car smells horrific

One actual Chinese automobile manufacturer — Guangzhou Automobile Group — showed actual Chinese automobiles at the North American International Show in Detroit, with greatest emphasis on the GS4, a wee SUV with questionable offroad capabilities. The last-generation-Kia looks weren’t too offputting, but oh, the stench!

Standing about 18-24 inches from the car, in the open doorway, the chemical odor was stronger than any “new car smell” I’ve ever experienced. If this is what it smelled like in the relatively cool concourse of Cobo Hall in January, one can only imagine how strong the offgassing would be on a hot summer day with the car sitting in the sun.

Still, I give GAC props for the “GS4″ name: it makes Cadillac’s upcoming “CT6″ sound just as callow and boring as it really is.

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We imperialists

This glorious land yacht has been James Lileks’ Bleat banner for this past week:

1961 Chrysler Imperial

This is almost certainly a 1961 model: the headlights are mounted on little stalks, one of Virgil Exner’s more precious ideas, and the Forward Look fins were carried over from the previous generation. (Mopars were finless starting in ’62.)

Imperial, it always seemed to me, was Chrysler’s red-headed stepchild, albeit with a perfect coif. Some years, such as ’61, Imperial was a separate make; before 1955 and after 1990, it was simply the top-line Chrysler. It never came close to upsetting Cadillac’s hold on the American luxoboat market in any of those years, though once or twice it did approach Lincolnesque numbers. In 1993, the brand was put to sleep, though Chrysler did paste an Imperial badge onto a 2007 concept car based on the 300, with a bling-to-horsepower ratio you wouldn’t want to calculate.

I don’t think they could sell a car called Imperial anymore, for fear someone would take the name as passive microaggression. Heck, I don’t remember seeing Imperial margarine lately. But this ’61 tank, fortified with Mopar’s 413 wedgehead V8, one of very few engines ever mentioned in a song, still has The Look.

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Dreammobiles considered

Charles Pergiel drops by the auto shop, spies a ’94 Lamborghini with 26,000 miles on the clock, and muses on the possibilities:

What do you do with a supercar? It’s not something you want to fetch groceries in. The pain of just getting in and out of the car is going to discourage that. Commuting to work in bumper to bumper traffic? That doesn’t sound like much fun. The whole point is to go a thousand miles an hour around hairpin corners, and where can you do that? There are lots of back roads in Oregon and once you get a hundred or so miles away from Portland and the I-5 corridor, traffic drops to nil.

There are a few folks who actually have daily drivers in this class, but most supercars, it seems to me, get trotted out as weekend toys, and the most logical reason for this, I think, comes from a California owner of a ’96 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta, interviewed for a Car and Driver feature in the March issue:

Set aside $5000 a year for maintenance and you should be fine. Some years you’ll skate by with $1500; other years it’s $6500.

The Ferrari guy, incidentally, has 23,800 miles on his F355. A thousand miles a year, and five bucks a mile to take care of it. If you’re that bucks-up, more power to you. If you’re not — say, if you’re a 14-year-old with gauzy dreams of speed — you might want to adjust your aspirations downward.

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How are the aerodynamics?

Aaron Robinson, in the March Car and Driver, on the Chevrolet Trax, a “wee SUV”:

The optional four-wheel drive is an electronically controlled system that engages clutch plates to add torque to the rear. It is not driver-lockable, just an automatic all-weather axle, there to straighten your path when the barometer nose-dives.

Or, you know, not. The lowest barometer reading in this town since ever — meaning, most likely, “since 1890″ — was 28.81 inches of mercury, on this very date in 1960. The high temperature that day was 75, which does not suggest a need for four-wheel drive. There were, however, F1-level tornadoes in the northeastern part of the state, and I don’t want to be driving in that kind of stuff no matter where the torque is allocated.

Maybe Robinson meant something other than “barometer.”

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Right-lane loafer

A sniveling letter to the editor of the Oklahoman:

Oklahoma City drivers need a refresher on what “yield” means. Every day, I experience drivers entering Interstate 44 and failing to yield to oncoming traffic. These drivers approach traffic almost at highway speeds while on the on-ramp and force themselves into highway traffic, causing drivers to brake suddenly or even stop, just to let a noncompliant driver in. One of the worst on-ramps is I-44 southbound at NW 10.

Inasmuch as an inordinate number of on-ramps in this town provide no way to see what’s approaching in the slow lane, the solution to this is simple: approach traffic at higher than highway speeds. (For those who might be wondering: this is what the top half of the tach is for.) If I’m going faster than you, obviously I’m not in your way, unless you’re that one cretin in a thousand who takes offense and tailgates for the next five miles, in which case dying in a fire might be the kindest fate I wish for you.

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Inelasticity

Somebody, I forget his name, said back in the Malaise Era that US energy policies were wacko, to the extent that if we had the last gallon of gasoline on earth, we’d probably sell it for 85 cents.

It would be more like two and a quarter today — with prices on the rise again, I got only one chance to fill Gwendolyn’s 70-liter tank with Shell V-Power at under two bucks a gallon — but while gasoline demand has been declining a bit, a reason for the previous price collapse that was popular among people who fear the wrath of Saudi Arabia, it hasn’t been declining that much, and current car buyers are paying even less attention to EPA fuel-economy estimates than usual. Demand, one might reasonably conclude, is relatively inelastic. And this is not the only commodity so affected:

What if it’s chocolate? What would people not pay for chocolate? The price elasticity for chocolate (whoops, now I’m going to make technical mistakes — beware) is negative. It might even be a Giffen good. In other words, you want it so badly that no matter what Hershey’s charges, you’re going to pay. With regard to the supply going tits up, Starbucks coffee drinkers will drink all of South America’s coffee plants bare. There will never be a point at which gasoline costs too much for us to not empty all the wells. We will eat all of the bluefin tuna sushi until there is no more in the sea, and the businesses between us and the raw materials of the earth will spin their flywheels until the whole enterprise crumbles. In other words, people will watch Robin Williams tell jokes until the day he dies, even if show business is killing him. And the day before his last show, there will be no indication by the price of the ticket that it is the very last ticket.

Consumers won’t know, because whatever it is, they can afford it. And then it’s a ghost town.

At the moment, I’m just grateful there exists no chocolate-covered gasoline — which would, of course, be premium-priced.

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It’s all just metal

Bark M. has a chat with the co-owner of a used-car dealership, and this bit of pragmatism pops up:

He told me about a beautiful 2013 E350 Sport 4Matic that he sold to a customer, and how finally getting rid of that car was going to enable him to go buy TWO used trucks at auction that week. “Those things we can really make some money on,” he excitedly shared with me. “People are still afraid of car payments in this economy. It’s much easier for me to move a few used trucks that I can get people into $210-220 payments on than these high-end cars. Those cars have two kinds of customers — over-educated pricks who come in here and tell me how much I paid for the car and how they don’t think I should be allowed to make any money on them, and then the people who don’t have any ability to actually pay for them.”

I certainly wouldn’t mind a 2013 E350 Sport 4Matic, but while I might be able to afford it (maybe), I’m not going in with the idea of intimidating dealer staff: they know more angles than I possibly can, and I pride myself on not being an overeducated prick.

Still, car payments, in many cases, are indeed something to be feared. There’s at least one person almost every single day on Yahoo! Answers who just bought a car in the last couple of months and is now, in that innocuous British phrase, being “made redundant”; invariably he wants to know if he can take it back to the dealership, the way he’d return a low-end power tool to Walmart. (No, he can’t.)

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Teenage dream marked for dashing

There’s one in every crowd:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How to get enough money for a lamborghini 3 years?

Well, that depends on your earning potential, and whether you can come up with $70-100k a year for the next three years, and … wait, what?

Ok I’m 14 and my dream car is a Lamborghini. How can I get enough money for a Lamborghini in 3-4 years. Thank you so much.

Fourteen?

Estimated lifespan of a teenager whose first car is a Lamborghini: 30 minutes/60 miles, whichever comes first.

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Neither black nor ice

During the winter, you get lots of warnings about frozen zones on the road that you can’t see at night; you don’t get so many about unfrozen zones on the road that you don’t notice in broad daylight. One of the latter got me yesterday afternoon after a grocery run.

The scene: Eastbound on NW 36th at Portland. There’d been about a quarter-inch of rain, and everywhere the pavement is irregular, there’s likely to be a puddle of some sort. (And as anyone who drives 36th knows, there are lots of places where the pavement is irregular.) The light turned green; I gave Gwendolyn a light tap on the throttle, she moved forward a couple of inches, and suddenly we found ourselves separated from the pavement by a thin layer of either greasy water or watery grease. (There are two filling stations at that intersection, which may or may not be a factor.) The tach rose with vigor, topping out at about 5400 rpm, before the transmission felt compelled to shift and the tires started to bite again.

To the presumed delight of the folks in adjacent lanes, I did not spin; my progress out of the pond was straight and true, if a little nerve-wracking. (Traction control? Never heard of it.) As is typical with jackrabbit starts in this car, the 1-2 shift happens faster than the accumulator can accumulate, so there was a palpable thump. No harm, no foul; but I kept the speed down a bit for the rest of the trip home.

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Hey, defrost this

On the 25th of November, I went out to the garage and located my ice scraper. Amazingly, it was right where I’d left it back in March. Maybe someday I won’t have to do this sort of thing anymore:

Fed up with the dismal winter ritual of chiselling ice off their car windows, a group of engineering students from Waterloo, Ont. came up with a way to ensure they never have to scrape another windshield again.

What began as university project two-and-a-half years ago to solve a pet peeve has evolved into Neverfrost, a startup company that’s developed a transparent film for vehicle windows to prevent frost and deflect harsh elements like snow and freezing rain.

The concept has already grabbed the attention of the trucking industry and its founders are so confident in Neverfrost’s future that one of them brushed off a job at Facebook and another sidelined plans for grad school, to chase their dreams of making the ice scraper obsolete.

And this isn’t some crummy plastic like your neighbor’s kid has stuck on the inside of his windows so you can’t see him picking his nose at the wheel, either:

The film incorporates nano technology, or the manipulation of objects on a molecular level, to prevent the windshield surface from reaching the conditions necessary for condensation and temperatures low enough to freeze.

Neverfrost also claims to be resistant to the impact of stones and insulates the vehicle cabin from outside elements, which its founders say can lessen the scorching heat of the summer sun.

Heck, it’s too bad they can’t make a whole car out of the stuff.

(“The Nobel Prize is such a lock this year,” says the Fark submitter.)

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You’re new around here, aren’t you?

Our reporter is a transplant from California to eastern Washington state, which might as well be Idaho for all she knows:

Mark this down as a learning experience, and go on.

(Via Autoblog.)

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The thing about used cars

Some of them can be used for quite a long time, as Matt can testify:

I get a call from Rob Ferretti of Super Speeders, who is also the devil when it comes to fun ideas. He found a 1996 Lexus LS400 in Tampa, Florida, with 897,000 real, verified miles on it, and thought I would like it. Those who know me, or at least know my taste in cars, would agree: if it checked out, I had to have the car. You see, I don’t crave a Ferrari, or really any of your traditional choices in cars, because I’ve seen them all a million times before. I crave the obscure; the interesting; the weird; the story. And buying a 900,000-mile version of my first car for basically no money and taking that bitch to seven figures myself, well my friends, that’s a story.

I don’t think the odo will show that seventh digit, but no matter. It will obviously be a million, because nobody will believe two million, and it certainly isn’t new:

A reasonable amount of money changed hands, and I now own real, tangible evidence of the durability of what is possibly the most important vehicle of the late 20th century, as well as a much more interesting example of my first car. These photos are the actual car I’ve bought, and though it’s had a medium-quality respray, the shift knob looks like crap, and the driver’s seat leather has been replaced, the overall condition is staggeringly good. Every. Single. Accessory. Works. Air Con blows cold, heat blows hot.

Much more than that, you cannot ask. Still, Matt wants to see that million without having to drive a hundred thousand miles all by himself, which explains this:

For reasons that I will make plain to you as soon as they are plain to me, I’m driving a Lexus LS400 with 902,700 miles from Los Angeles to Columbus, OH. My co-driver is the infamous Alex Roy. Our plans to cover a thousand miles a day have been undone by closed interstates and worse travel conditions than anything I’ve ever experienced on the East Coast. Nevertheless the big Toyota is running strong and sure.

I’m starting to think I should look for one of these big Lexi when Gwendolyn (vintage 2000, 156,000 miles) decides to retire. Her shift knob, incidentally, looks great.

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Deform follows dysfunction

Or maybe it’s the other way around. A year or so ago, I tossed up some nonsense which was intended to verify that yes, the new Ford F-150 pickup has an aluminum body atop its steel frame, and down in the comments I noted:

In terms of automotive bodywork, steel is decidedly cheaper, if only because it’s easier to form — and, as the body shop will tell you, easier to repair.

You can work an F-150 up to about sixty grand if you try, a sum that will almost buy you the lowest-end Tesla Model S. How much does it cost to fix those little beauties? Let’s just say a helluva lot:

“Cost of repair crazy high” is how one Model S owner puts it in a thread on the Tesla Motor Club online owners forum.

He describes a minor front-end collision, from which he was able to drive away, that cost him $20,327 to repair.

Visible damage was limited to the front left fender, lights, and the corner of the hood. But the bill listed 92 hours of labor and almost $8,000 in parts, including a single self-piercing rivet billed at $35.

That $35 is about what you’d pay for a Tylenol at County Hospital.

Twenty thousand bucks will just about buy me a knee replacement, from which I won’t be able to walk away for some time.

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Warmth vs. intercoolers

This guy thinks he has a dilemma:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: If I have to buy a sports or super car like Maseratis, Porsches, Ferraris or Lamborghinis, should I sacrifice dating/marriage?

He goes on:

I’ve always wanted a nice european car and its been my dream for quite a while. I was told the car is financially cheaper than the woman. So if I wanted a nice super car like a Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale, Porsche 911 Turbo S or a Audi R8 5.2 V10, maybe even a Lexus LFA. Should I sacrifice on women and children, get a good education and save as much as possible for 15 years before buying my dream car?

Not to worry. The process is automatic: once a woman finds out you’re more interested in a car than in her, she will scorch the pavement for a quarter-mile just to get away from you.

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Ludicrous speed

Tesla has brought out a P85D version of the Model S, with a smaller motor out back but an auxiliary motor up front for all-wheel-drive use. Apparently it also provides something of a performance boost, as suggested by this shot from the car’s touchscreen:

I don’t think I’d want both Insane and Slip Start pressed at the same time, though.

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But where are the holes?

Seldom do I ask myself “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?” Once in a while, though, the Tri-Shield tempts me:

Buick Avenir concept

This is Avenir, a concept created by GM Holden in Australia, and this is what it’s like:

Designed to be a proper Buick of the traditional fashion, the large coupe-like four-door sedan has the same 5.2-metre-long dimensions as the current Holden Caprice, and utilises rear-wheel drive (note: the original press release stated all-wheel drive, which GM withdrew), a nine-speed automatic, adjustable dampers and a next-generation (unspecified size) direct-injected V6 engine with cylinder deactivation technology.

It’s not the next-generation Riviera or anything like that, and the rounded-off boat-tail rear may be a bit much, but it’s a compelling pitch.

(If you must have holes Cruiserline Ventiports in your Buick, well, there’s that vent in front of the door; it’s actually subdivided into three sections.)

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Not one mention of vodka

The derisive term “Safety Nazis” has yet to make any headway in Russia, but their regulators are even wackier than our regulators:

Russia has listed transsexual and transgender people among those who will no longer qualify for driving licences.

Fetishism, exhibitionism and voyeurism are also included as “mental disorders” now barring people from driving.

The government says it is tightening medical controls for drivers because Russia has too many road accidents.

I can see wanting to put the voyeurs and the exhibitionists on the bus — maybe even the same bus — but trans people? Are they mistranslating the term as “transit”?

“Pathological” gambling and compulsive stealing are also on the list. Russian psychiatrists and human rights lawyers have condemned the move.

In other news, there are psychiatrists and human rights lawyers in Russia.

(Via Jen Richards, who quips: “I have both the poor driving skills of a woman and the aggressive rage of a man. Please stop me from #drivingwhiletrans!”)

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A couple of grand

Which is kinder than the more obvious answer:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Whats the difference between a 4 CYL AND A 6 CYL?

It’s just a darn shame that Volkswagen quit sending us five-cylinder cars.

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I didn’t 4C this

Still, I should have guessed that the pitch would be something like this:

Jonathon Ramsey of Autoblog said it best:

We haven’t watched a car ad with this much European panache in quite some time — and let us be clear, we’re using the phrase “European panache” in its marketing sense, which is code for “women in lingerie.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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Steel your heart away

The American steel industry didn’t get its dander up when automakers started messing with things like aluminum spaceframes and carbon fiber: the vehicles so designed tended to be pricey, low-volume, and, well, un-American.

That was before Ford decided that what the world needed now was an aluminum F-150, and when the single largest-selling vehicle in the country makes a switch like this — well, there’s a full-page ad in the buff books, which I saw in Motor Trend, the first of the February 2015 issues I read, extolling the virtues of steel and not even mentioning That Other Metal. Inevitably, there’s a Web site, at autosteel.org, and so I figured I’d see who was up to this:

The Automotive Applications Council (AAC) is a subcommittee of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) and focuses on advancing the use of steel in the highly competitive automotive market.

The SMDI Automotive Market program continues to be the catalyst for bringing together steel, automotive industry, and federal partners (such as the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation) to conduct research, provide technology transfer, and promote steel-intensive solutions in the marketplace. Advanced high-strength steels, which are the fastest-growing materials in automotive design, enable our automotive customers to deliver vehicles that are more lightweight, fuel-efficient, and affordable, while still protecting passengers.

That last bit, about protecting passengers, might well turn out to be their best talking point, since a fair percentage of the public is familiar with aluminum only as foil or beer cans, neither of which is exactly known for puncture resistance.

Participants in the SMDI include three big domestic producers — AK (a merger of Armco and Kawasaki), Nucor, and US Steel, and major European producer ArcelorMittal. A quick glance at the financials indicate that all four of these firms have taken substantial hits to the bottom line of late, so it’s no surprise that they’re trying to keep things from getting worse.

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Tesla unplugged?

Bark M. figures that in a year’s time, there won’t be any more muskrats to guard Elon Musk:

The Emperor’s New Clothes are starting to fall off. Sales numbers don’t match registrations. Oil prices are artificially low. Even in peak selling conditions, Tesla couldn’t make the inroads they wanted — how will they do it when oil is hovering around $55 a barrel? Elon Musk had the cards stacked his way, but he couldn’t capitalize. The party is likely over for Tesla by the end of the year — and likely in a sale to an unlikely buyer (Apple? Google?).

Actually, those buyers seem relatively likely, if only because they could pay for the automaker out of petty cash. “Unlikely” would be, say, BlackBerry, whose financial state is such that they can order either corn or flour tortillas, but not both.

Besides, a major contributor to Tesla’s bottom line is the trading of ZEV credits, and they can’t last forever, even in California.

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How mechanics can afford boats

It’s not reasonable to expect a contemporary driver to be able to rebuild an automatic transmission. (I’ve written an actual FAQ covering two units, and I don’t think I could rebuild them.) Still, there is such a thing as Too Dumb To Drive:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: If my break lights stay on when the car is off does that mean the battery is being used?

I’m tempted to tell her something like “No, it’s running off Wi-Fi,” and then wait for her to show up again with a complaint about how much batteries cost.

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No flights there

“The mental space of a long drive,” writes Ann Althouse, “is a very different place”:

I don’t have a fear of flying. I hate the conditions of disorder and complexity and indignity. I don’t want to be treated that way.

And I have a car.

A car gives me flexibility about when to leave. I can pick good weather days, or give up on the whole trip at the last minute if I want. With a car, I have control and freedom. Yeah, it probably takes longer, but I am a free citizen in the United States of America.

If I drive to Kansas City — about six hours if I allow myself some time to dawdle — I’ll be slightly tired, and I’ll almost definitely have to avail myself of the porcelain facility. But if I fly to Kansas City, about four and a half hours counting check-in, baggage retrieval, and the long haul back to civilization, MCI being located halfway to Des Moines fercrissake, I’ll be growly and uncommunicative, except for the growls, and I’ll eventually collapse in a heap.

“You can’t get there by plane,” says Althouse. And if you could, you probably wouldn’t want to. I know I wouldn’t.

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You serfs have no right to do that

And we’re going to sue you for voting against our revenue measure:

Three towns in Missouri joined together to sue the the residents of St. Charles [County] who voted to ban red light cameras. St. Peters, Lake Saint Louis and O’Fallon are asking a county circuit court judge to overturn the charter amendment banning automated enforcement adopted in November with the support of 73 percent of voters. City leaders argue that the 69,469 residents who voted for the measure had no business limiting the right of local politicians to use automated ticketing machines.

“The charter amendment invades the legislative jurisdiction of cities in contravention of state policy, and conflicts with the authority specifically delegated to cities by the state to address their specific needs including traffic and enforcement of traffic regulations,” attorney Matthew J. Fairless wrote in the cities’ complaint.

The suit alleges the charter amendment will result in “a loss of revenue” and, therefore, each of the cities has standing to sue. The cities also argue that the Missouri General Assembly gave each city government “exclusive control over all streets, alleys, avenues and public highways within the limits of such city” so that the people who live in the county have no say in the decisions made by political leaders.

Meanwhile, the state has never actually authorized these things, and a case is pending before the state Supreme Court to determine whether they can. Which clearly doesn’t bother at least one of these towns:

St. Peters was the first American city to see a red light camera corruption trial. Former Mayor Shawn Brown was convicted of soliciting a bribe from Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia. He was released from prison in 2008.

Not that this counts as motivation or anything.

(Via Fark.)

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Right smack in the puss

I have owned three cars equipped with Supplemental Restraint Systems, a.k.a. airbags. I have never seen them deploy, even in the car that was wrecked. (That said, I walked away from that wreck without a scratch, which I attribute to the use of the Standard Restraint System, a.k.a. the seat belt.) In this case, one might argue that the airbags didn’t actually work; then again, that these things work at all, says Mike Smitka, is fairly miraculous in itself:

A car going 30 miles per hour is traveling 44 feet per second. If you hit a tree, the worst sort of accident, and are sitting 5 feet behind your car’s bumper, the airbag has 5/44 = 110 milliseconds to do its thing. Your airbag sensor needs to detect a sudden deceleration within 20 milliseconds, has to start the propellant igniting in another 2-3 milliseconds, and the airbag (some are over 20 gallons = 70 liters!) must inflate into the proper shape in another 60 or so milliseconds.

Airbags ignite with the bang comparable to a fair-sized firecracker. Those who complain of airbag burns after an accident — not that such burns aren’t real, I’ve been at accident scenes — should be made to go to their local gym and have a boxer hit their face with a steering wheel to see what they missed. That airbags can be made to work, yet seldom cause serious injury, is to me pretty amazing.

I have a 70-liter (closer to 18.5 gallons) gas tank, and something that size in my lap is hard to imagine, especially if it wasn’t there a tenth of a second ago. Fortunately, I’ve never had to experience this sort of thing. (And they totaled my car anyway, once the repair estimate went over five grand or so.)

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Beyond comprehensive

One of the arguments in favor of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act — which, to the surprise of no one actually paying attention, required a mere 67-percent increase in my annual deductible to qualify the corporate policy without sending the premium to the stratosphere — was that “it’s just like car insurance, nobody has a problem with that being mandatory.”

Well, no, I don’t have a problem with that. I’d point out that rather a large percentage of drivers have been ignoring that particular mandate all along, but ultimately I suppose I need to be more concerned about people who simply can’t read policies:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: My motor is messed up in my car will my car insurance pay for it to get fix?

Short answer: no. And there’s really no need for a long answer.

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Put one in your garage

Well, it won’t fit in my garage, not at 85 inches wide. (My Infiniti sedan is a tight-ish squeeze at just over 70 inches. Then again, my garage was built in the tall-car era, back in 1951.) That said, the Defense Logistics Agency has turned loose 25 genuine military HMMWVs from their stash of about 4,000, and they sold for an average of just under $30,000 each at auction.

Presumably you won’t be able to tag them for on-road use, so you’ll have to tow it (all 5900 lb worth) to whatever rocks you want to crush with it. Don’t even ask about fuel economy. (Actually, it’s probably in double digits, but the lowest double digits possible; Northrop Grumman has offered a chassis upgrade for Humvees that brings them up to a theoretical 18 mpg, but it costs six figures all by itself.)

A new batch of Humvees is expected to come to market after the first of the year.

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