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Lincoln Continental


Three ads for tailfinned Lincoln Continentals are a reminder that one of the best ways to make something amazingly beautiful is to make a million mediocre and terrible things and wait half a century (or more) until the good ones have risen to the top. The suicide door was incredibly dumb, but it sure looked nice, at least when designers lucked into (or were canny enough to create) a pleasing form for them.

Lincoln Continental - Sunday Sample

Beautiful booze-trailer for sale


From the Neiman-Marcus gift catalog, a trailer that converts into an elaborate, beautiful bar, and comes with a year's supply of Bulleit bourbon and rye. There are two for sale at $150K each, with 10 percent going to an HIV/AIDS charity.

A chorus of cheers rings out the minute you pull up. Tailgating will never be the same now that your Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Woody-Tailgate Trailer is on the scene. Designed by interior designer Brad Ford, it's impressive on the outside, but what's on the inside truly astounds: sleek leather furnishings and details from Moore & Giles, rich wood finishings (handcrafted from reclaimed Bulleit Bourbon casks), elegant glassware, and a top-notch entertainment system, including a flat-screen TV, Blu-ray Disc™ player, and a state-of-the-art sound system, plus a one-year supply of Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye*. You park, open the hatch, and slide out the bar—cocktails anyone?

Bulleit is delicious bourbon, but I recently bought a bottle of Elmer T Lee Single Barrel and holy cats, is that stuff astounding.

BEST GIFT, BAR NONE! & BULLEIT TO GO (via Neatorama)

Grumpy 1833 letter calls BS on car-maker's extravagant claims


Jalopnik's Jason Torchinsky discovered an 1833 letter to Mechanic's Magazine in which one "Junius Redivivius" spends two highly entertaining pages debunking the elaborate claims made by Dr. Church's Burmingham Steam Carriage Company about its forthcoming wares.

If that drawing be a correct representation of the vehicle constructed by Dr.Church, it is in itself conclusive evidence of his utter unfitness for the purpose of promoting steam locomotion... the thing looks like a car of Juggernaut, intended to be moved only under the influence of a strong internal excitement, rather than a vehicle intended for the purposes of everyday utility. It looks like a mountain, and a mountain scarcely to be moved. If there is one form of carriage more liable to overset than another, it is that of three wheels in a triangle...

...In the drawing all the wheels are of one size, and "Impartial" states them to be eight feet in diameter. Thus, the heads of the outside passengers, who are so comfortably and leisurely seated on stick chairs or benches on the roof, must be some four-and-twenty feet from the roadway... I fear the pedestrians would outstrip them in speed... and ask, as they pass 'what the temperature may be at that height?'

As Torchinsky notes, Redivivius was right, "Church's lumbering steam-beast did not, in fact, run as planned, and later reports suggest it only made one trial run, in 1835, for three miles before becoming damaged while making a turn."

This 1833 Letter Is The Very First Instance Of Calling Bullshit On An Automaker

Read the rest

Maria Del Camino: an art-car that's part tank, part El Camino

Wired Design has a great short video documentary on my friend Bruce Tomb, who has built an amazing art-car called Maria Del Camino that's part tank, part 59 El Camino, part flying car. I camp with Bruce and his wife Mary and our friends at Burning Man, along with Maria, at the Liminal Labs camp every summer. Maria is such a wonderful addition to our Burn!

The outcome might not be what you’d expect. With the help of some friends, Tomb created “Maria del Camino.” She’s an excavator topped with a 1959 El Camino, mounted on a hydraulic array that lifts it high off the ground. Her body is adorned with thousands of drilled-out holes, and her hood sports a portrait of the robot woman from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, which shines when the light hits it. In simple terms, it’s nothing but sheer magnificence.

Maria is currently being worked on at the DIY space Nimby in Oakland California. We stopped by to ask Tomb how — and why — he built his “flying” car, and he took us for a beer run, stopping traffic along the way.

As for future modifications, Tomb has a big one in mind. “Been working on removing the manual controls,” he says. “I’ve heard driverless cars are all the rage!”

This Homemade ‘Flying Car’ Can’t Exactly Fly, But It Still Turns Heads [Annaliza Savage/Wired]

Custom Zelda motorcycle helmet art


Ara did a beautiful job decorating redditor phrenetiKz's motorcycle helmet with a monochrome, line-art Zelda motif. There's a wallpaper of the whole thing, too.

Local redditor finished her Zelda artwork on my helmet...AKA my Zelmet

Australian pop-out camper that is full of well-thought-out features

Here's a slow, gentle, fascinating demonstration video for the Wedgetail slide-on camper, "built for rough Australian terrain." It's a pretty amazing feat of engineering, with lots of thoughtful features. But what really gets me is in the money shot where the whole thing opens up like some kind of origami trick. Big things hidden in little things! Hell yeah!

Wedgetail slide on camper demonstration (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Vehicular tetris plan foiled by German policeman with tragic lack of imagination


This tetris of vehicles was constructed by a Polish truck driver, who conceived of it as a clever means of transporting several trucks and a car in one go. His plan was foiled by a spoilsport German cop, who made him destack it. I say that if there was a problem with this construction, it was in its lack of ambition: why not a motorcycle atop the car? Why not a bicycle atop the motorcycle? Why not a strapping lad in rollerskates on a pogo-stick bouncing on the bicycle?

On the road, the officers stopped the breakdown field daredevil transport (on the way to Belgium). On the Iveco car carrier (1) there was a large truck (2, on the deck again, a smaller VW MAN truck (3 And on the deck one Mercedes (4)!

Police spokesman Acor Kniely: "This tower contradicted all road traffic legislation. Especially as he to make matters worse the trailer still wanted to charge another truck! "

So was hatte Krefelds Polizei noch nicht gesehen: Hochstapler-Laster gestoppt! - Düsseldorf [Ulrich Altmann/Bild.de/Google Translate] (via Neatorama)

Undistinguished car, cut out


Phil Are Go! has performed another public service by doing a nice cutout of the boxy, undistinguished Toyota Corona, the perfect stock art for any dull automotive piece.

Toyota Corona - Good for the kids.

Humorless Washingtonian thinks GOES211 plate is about penis-length, not Spinal Tap


A man named Johnny Dixon complained to the Washington Personalized License Plate Committee about the Spinal Tap-homage vanity plate GOES211 on Tony Cava's BMW. Dixon thought Cava was boasting about his penis length. The DOL let Cava keep the plate.

A man identifying himself as Johnny Dixon wasn’t thinking “Spinal Tap” when he spotted the plate.

Last October, Dixon emailed the Department of Licensing: “I find it in poor taste that the great state of Washington would issue a plate that allows a driver to insinuate in public that his penis grows to 11 inches in length. The rest of the citizens of Washington should not be subjected to this vulgarity.”

And so the case of GOES211 ended up before something called the DOL’s Personalized License Plate Committee. Bureaucracies like committees, and lists.

...Asked for comment about his complaint, Dixon emailed back, “What exactly is it that you want to know? I find it disturbing that you can access my emails to the DOL.”

Vanity plates: some take too much license [Seattle Times/Erik Lacitis] (Thanks, Marty!)

Steampunky concept motorcyle


This is the creation of Mikhail Smolyanov, whose concept bike designs are, to a one, wonderful to behold. Funnily nostalgic, gloriously impractical, and beautifully rendered.

Solifague Design (via Kadrey)

HOWTO recover your stolen car


From an email sent to author Tyler Cowen by a reader:

Oh, and here’s a tip I hope you never need: if your car is ever stolen, your first calls should be to every cab company in the city. You offer a $50 reward to the driver who finds it AND a $50 reward to the dispatcher on duty when the car is found. The latter is to encourage dispatchers on shift to continually remind drivers of your stolen car. Of course you should call the police too but first things first. There are a lot more cabs than cops so cabbies will find it first -and they’re more frequently going in places cops typically don’t go, like apartment and motel complex parking lots, back alleys etc. Lastly, once the car is found, a swarm of cabs will descend and surround it because cabbies, like anyone else, love excitement and want to catch bad guys. Cabbies know a lot of stuff*. I found a traveling shoplifting ring in Phoenix once. Professional shoplifters always take cabs. So do strippers going to work but that’s another story.

Taxis and the shortest route home (from my email) (via Kottke)

American insurers charge reckless rich drivers less than safe poor drivers

The Consumer Federation of America did a mystery shopper review of several auto insurers and found that drivers with at-fault accidents paid lower premiums than drivers with spotless records -- provided that the careless driver was rich and well-educated and the careful driver was a single renter without an advanced degree.

Using two hypothetical characters the group compared premiums offered to two 30-year-old women. Both had driven for 10 years, lived on the same street in a middle-income Zip code and both wanted the minimum insurance required by whichever state the group was researching.

The imaginary woman who wasn’t married, rented a home, didn’t have coverage for 45 days but has never been in an accident or ticketed with a moving violation was compared to a married executive with a master’s degree who owns her home and has always had continuous insurance coverage. But she’d been in an accident (again, hypothetically) that was her fault and caused $800 in damage within the last three years.

The results were somewhat surprising, although there were differences across the five insurers. Farmers, GEICO and Progressive always gave a higher quote to the safer driver than the woman who’d caused an accident. Across all 12 cities in the study, State Farm offered the lowest or second lowest premiums.

“State insurance regulators should require auto insurers to explain why they believe factors such as education and income are better predictors of losses than are at-fault accidents,” said J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance and former Texas insurance

Consumer Group: The Rich May Pay Less For Car Insurance Even If They’re Not Safe Drivers [Consumerist/Mary Beth Quirk]

LARGEST AUTO INSURERS FREQUENTLY CHARGE HIGHER PREMIUMS TO SAFE DRIVERS THAN TO THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR ACCIDENTS (PDF) [Consumer Federation of America]

The Chariot from Lost in Space: an appreciation

The TV show Lost in Space featured a marvellous, transparent, caterpillar-tread space-rover called "The Chariot," which was adapted from a snow vehicle, but was groovily and spacily modded into something quite wonderful. The company that manufactured it later went on to produce solid rocket boosters for the Space Shuttle, the Mars Pathfinder airbags, and ejector seats:

"The Chariot" was a real, full-sized, fully operational vehicle, both in real-life and in the 1960s' fictional future. It was used to transport the Robinson family, pilot Don West, the robot, and the conniving Dr. Smith to virtually anywhere on whatever planet they would happen to be crash-landed on that week.

The Chariot was filmed on both the studio soundstage and at remote outdoor locations, which gave the show one of its few points of technical credibility. We never saw how the Robinsons stored the vehicle; I always assumed it folded neatly into the belly of the Jupiter II.

Chariot 6 This futuristic "Family Truckster" began life as a Thiokol Snowcat Spryte, powered by a Ford 170-cubic-inch inline-6 with 101 horsepower. It had a 4-speed automatic transmission, plus reverse. I hope there were some alien gas stations along their way, as the stock vehicle got 4-8 miles per gallon and came with a 15-gallon fuel tank. That's a 120-mile range at best.

"The Chariot" from Lost In Space [That Car Guy/Car Lust]

(via Danny's Land)

NYC's new parking signs are great information design


The NYC Department of Transport has revamped its notoriously complex parking-rules signs, so that they're slightly less cryptic. It's a very nice example of good information design!

NYC DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan, City Council Speaker Quinn and Council Member Garodnick Unveil Newly Designed, Simplified Parking Signs in Midtown (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

History of cars in cartoons

Amid sez, "In the 1950s and 1960s, as cars became a fixture of contemporary life, animators made all kinds of films about automobile culture, exploring its history, its prevalence within society, its effect on human behavior, as well as its future possibilities and potential consequences. These films didn't merely feature cars as plot devices, but made a satirical commentary on the institutions of driving and vehicle ownership. On Cartoon Brew, I've curated a collection of nine animated shorts that offer a unique window into our relationship with cars during the Golden Age of the automobile."

These films are, of course, mostly valuable as historical markers. Today, as our environmentally-conscious world shifts into a post-auto culture, we worry less and less about the anxieties of driving and car ownership. The contemporary animator views cars through a different prism, one that is most effectively reflected in Pixar’s Cars. John Lasseter’s film no longer questions or considers the idea of the car, but rather offers a wistful nostalgic ode to the golden age of the automobile, a bygone era that can only be glimpsed by looking into the rear-view mirror.

Modern Car-Toons: A Look At Autos In Mid-Century Animation (Thanks, Amid!)