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Your car is not a tornado shelter

Last Friday, a tornado near El Reno, Oklahoma killed scientist Tim Samaras, as well as his son and a colleague. The three were tracking the storm in a vehicle — storm chasing, if you will — as part of their ongoing efforts to deploy probes that could capture high-resolution video from inside a tornado. (Samaras' team was one of many practicing a type of science that can basically be described as Twister in real life.) Chasing storms was an important part of what Samaras did. National Geographic reports that tornadoes only developed in roughly two of every 10 storms Samaras tracked, and the probes were only useful in a fraction of the tornadoes they were deployed in.

Samaras' death is tragic, but he wasn't some untrained yahoo out running around on county roads in a tornado for fun. He was there to do a job; a job that would, eventually, help other people survive. That said, if a situation kills experts, you probably don't want to be that untrained person trying to navigate it on your own.

Which brings us to a key point. After a handful of people who survived the Moore tornado credited their survival to driving away from it, people in Oklahoma City apparently responded to Friday's storms by trying to do the same thing. For some, it worked. But others were killed or injured when traffic on highways in the tornado's path ground to a complete halt, clogged with cars full of people who were (either accidentally or intentionally) trying to flee the storm instead of hide from it.

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Batmobile sold for $4.6 million

Batmoooo

The original Batmobile driven on the 1960s TV series sold for auction on Saturday for $4.6 million. The seller was legendary kustom car king George Barris who had transformed the 1955 Lincoln Futura for television. The buyer was Rick Champagne, owner of an Arizona logistics company. Champagne says he's going to put the car in his living room. Batmobile sells for $4.6 million (CNN)

Crashed car sculpted from painted people

NewImage

Look closely. Those are seventeen people that artist Emma Hack painted and contorted into the shape of a smashed car. See how she did it below. (thanks, Sean Ness!)

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The world's smallest model car


This electron microscope photograph, published by the Vienna University of Technology, shows a nano-scale model of a Formula One racing car, created using a 3D printing technique being developed there. The BBC has more on the new technique.

Extreme DIY car mods: Volvo with a wood-burning stove for heat

Wood burns in a stove as Pascal Prokop drives his totally baller 1990 Volvo 240 station wagon during cold winter weather on a road near the town of Mettmenstetten, some 25 kilometres south of Zurich, on February 9, 2012. Prokob built in the stove by himself and got an operating permit by the Swiss technical inspection authority. As I publish this blog post, it is 15ºF in the town where he lives and drives.

Pros: S'mores while driving are possible. Cons: the stove occupies the spot where one's significant other might be seated. Oh, and, you know: fire?

(REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)

NASCAR prayer (video)

[Video Link] A pre-race prayer at the NASCAR Nationwide series race in Nashville Tennessee, on July 23, 2011. "We want to thank you, Lord, for these mighty machines.... Lord I want to thank you for my smokin' hot wife.... Boogity Boogity Boogity. Amen." (via Tabitha Hale on Google+)

Freaky 1970 bubblecar concept vehicle, then and now

Dinosaurs and Robots brings us a look at Luigi Colani's 1970 LeMans Concept Car, "a hand-sculpted, biomorphic, plexiglass-domed, pivoting cockpit pod onto the business end of a Lamborghini Miura," presently up for sale on eBay, in somewhat rough shape. This thing looks like the sort of car that the really gifted draw-ers in my grade three class used to obsessively sketch (minus the jet engine and the drone chute).

Other Makes: Luigi Colani LeMans Concept

Vintage Rootes automotive ads in Russian and English


LiveJournal Vintage Ads group member valaamov_osel scanned this 1961 Rootes automotive booklet that is inexplicably in both some Cyrillic language (I'm assuming Russian) and English. It's dozens of pages of pure vintage auto-ad gold, especially the heavy goods/passenger vehicles with names like "Gamecock" and "Avenger."

Rootes ad. 1961.

Handmade machined aluminum speedster


Dan Bishop from Karas Kustoms makes and sells these beautiful machined aluminum speedsters for $65: "It measures approx. 6″ x 4″. The wheels are mounted on bearings and actually roll. Each car is machined from 6061 alum, in our shop, right here in the good ol' USA."

Machined Aluminum Speedster (via Make)

Steampunk hotrod: Ratrod!


Steampunk Workshop features the stellar Steam Trunk Industries Ratrod: a Big-Daddy-Roth-looking hotrod with steampunk accents and enormous character.

Steam Trunk Industries Ratrod! (Thanks, Jake!)

Now that's an American car!

RIP, Hummer

Having failed to sell the Hummer brand off to a Chinese car manufacturer, GM is shutting it down. This car was like the high-fructose corn syrup of automobiles, something that concentrated everything bad about motoring until it underwent a phase-change and somehow became an object of desire.
"We have since considered a number of possibilities for Hummer along the way and we are disappointed that the deal with Tengzhong could not be completed," said John Smith, GM's vice-president of corporate planning and alliances.

"GM will now work closely with Hummer employees, dealers and suppliers to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner."

Hummer brand to be wound down after sale fails (via Memex 1.1)

(Image: Hummer limousine, a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike image from Franco Folini's photostream)

Transformers-themed customized car in Guatemala

gua1211-04.jpg

Michael Bay himself would have been proud of this customized boy racer I spotted last night, here in Guatemala. I counted a dozen Transformers logos pasted all over this cheesy masterpiece! The piece de resistance has gotta be that additional tiny Decepticon decal on the fake intake. Truly a thing of lowbrow beauty, que no? More iPhone snaps after the jump.

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Paul Pope illustrates Japan's grooviest concept cars


John sez, "Batman: Year 100 creator Paul Pope illustrated three Japanese concept cars for GQ, as well as a flying car of his own design. You can see all the illustrations at the GQ link."

It Will Come From Japan!

Superpunch's gallery of photos of the actual cars

(Thanks, John!)

Toy truck craps out domino runs


Brando's Auto Domino Building Truck is a battery-powered toy truck that shits bricks -- that is, it poops out dominos standing on end at the correct intervals to make a domino run. Or so the manufacturer says -- I haven't tried it yet. But I have a vision of setting this thing down at one end of an airport concourse and creating a mile-long run. I love that the dominos load in via a magazine that sticks out of the top like a banana-clip on an automatic rifle.

The Auto Domino Building Truck (via Red Ferret)