You can own a "DeLorean" hovercraft

This DIY hovercraft styled like the Doc Brown's DeLorean in the Back to the Future films is up for auction on Bring A Trailer. Current bid is $22,500, half of what maker Matt Riese was asking when I posted last year that the DeLorean was listed on eBay. Apparently he's done quite a bit of work on it since. From Bring A Trailer:

The vehicle was constructed with plywood and fiberglass built over a styrofoam slab. The seller reports it is approximately the size of a DeLorean DMC-12, and the bodywork was recently repainted. Equipment includes gullwing doors, as well as working headlights and side markers. Dummy tail lamps flank the rear-mounted fan.

The seller reports that the vehicle is capable of 31 mph on water under ideal conditions, with speeds in the high twenties being more typical. Hovering in choppy water is not recommended.

More: The Delorean Hovercraft

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Iconic A-Team van gets a modern update by the Sketch Monkey

I had thought of repainting my 1987 VW Vanagon like BA's van, but the spoiler... Read the rest

Another man filmed keying a Tesla, by the Tesla

The nine-camera security system included with Tesla cars is the gift that keeps on giving, if not for automobile owners and their insurers. Here's another vandal caught on tape keying an electrical vehicle for reasons known only to him. This gentleman offers the camera a smirk on the way out of the Davies Park and Ride in Edmonton, Alberta.

Andrew Batiuk:

This occurred October 12th, 2019 to a friend of mine, while his car was parked for an Eskimos football game. It is super upsetting that folks think it is acceptable to damage other people's property, regardless of the reason. Unfortunately, Alberta doesn't require front license plates. If anyone happens to recognize this individual, please contact the Edmonton Police, file # 19149663.

Local news loves this sort of thing. Read the rest

This #vanlife is not all it is cracked up to be

Oh, the joys of #vanlife!

I was checking up on my Vanagon yesterday and noticed the coolant was low. Missing coolant is very bad in a Vanagon for many, many reasons.

I looked for a leak.

I could not find a leak. It was possible the car had just burped an air bubble and swallowed a cup or two of coolant from the reserve. I was not in a panic.

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Via my sister

A post shared by Jason Weisberger (@jlw) on Jul 25, 2017 at 4:09pm PDT

I also knew my power steering belt was looking really ragged. I decided to call the local shop I've been working with and see if they could swap the belt and pressure test the system today.

They said bring the bus in at 7am.

I drove the 10-15 miles to my mechanic with no problems at all. I had given myself an extra hour in the event something terrible went wrong with the cooling system, or the v-belt decided to trash my day on the way to being replaced.

It is a Vanagon, these things happen.

I got to the shop uneventfully. I love my bus. I take good care of it.

See, things work out!

I decided to park about 3 blocks away and get a cup of pretty terrible coffee from a Starbucks.

Starbucks had terrible coffee.

I, and Pretzel my faithful Cavalier King Charles companion, returned to the van. I turned the key in the ignition. Read the rest

Squirrels stash 200+ walnuts under SUV hood

Pennsylvania resident Chris Persic says his wife called to let him know their SUV smelled like it was burning. When she opened the hood, a surprise was waiting: walnuts and grass piled all over the Kia engine, stashed their by misbehaving squirrels. Read the rest

Watch this weird clip of a driver who dozes off, almost wrecks, and then blames another car

I'm glad they didn't wreck but the driver's facial expressions in this clip are really something. He's be a great character actor. The whole clip is like a scene from a Jim Jarmusch film.

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Incredible feat of parallel parking

A determined driver in France fit their car in a spot with just a few inches of clearance. This is one of 10 videos about heroic parkers featured in Car and Driver. Read the rest

Once again my 12v voltmeter diagnoses a won't start issue on my VW bus

Old cars. Old Wiring. This Innova "Battery and Charging System Monitor" saved my butt again.

Almost every time I start my 1987 Vanagon I plug in this voltmeter, and watch the voltage drop as I start the car. It goes right into the cigarette lighter plug. I watch to make sure the battery doesn't drop below a healthy level while starting. 10.5 is about as low as it should read.

Earlier this week, returning to my bus with a bag full of groceries, I put in the meter and turned the key. The meter ready 12.7v. That is healthy. Turning the key didn't drop the voltage at all, and there was no sound coming from my starter. The fuel pump, tho, I could hear.

I tightened up all the contacts on the starter, checked a few things up at the dashboard (there is a ridiculous "do not start" switch in the automatic transmission's shift-lever box) and magically the current would drop to 12.4 and the starter made a little click. Clearly there was juice in the battery, but it wasn't getting to the starter.

Corrosion and old wires were the culprit. Some clipping and solder later, now the car starts up great.

I keep this fine tool in each of my cars. I keep a real multitester under the seat of my motorcycle.

Salt air is a real pain in the ass.

INNOVA 3721 Battery and Charging System Monitor Read the rest

Video: the mathematics of where to park your car

Are you the driver in the lot who parks in the first spot you see? Or do you circle around and around looking for a spot by the door? Physicists Paul Krapivsky of Boston University and Sidney Redner of the Santa Fe Institute explored the mathematics of parking. The research required different equations and simulations to model the benefits of the various parking approaches. From EurkeAlert!:

In their paper, Krapivsky and Redner map three simple parking strategies onto an idealized, single row parking lot. Drivers who grab the first space available follow what the authors call a "meek" strategy. They "waste no time looking for a parking spot," leaving spots near the entrance unfilled. Those who gamble on finding a space right next to the entrance are "optimistic." They drive all the way to the entrance, then backtrack to the closest vacancy. "Prudent" drivers take the middle path. They drive past the first available space, betting on the availability of at least one other space further in. When they find the closest space between cars, they take it. If no spaces exist between the furthest parked car and the entrance, prudent drivers backtrack to the space a meek driver would have claimed straightaway.

So which strategy is best? As the name suggests, the prudent strategy. Overall, it costs drivers the least amount of time, followed closely by the optimistic strategy. The meek strategy was "risibly inefficient," to quote the paper, as the many spaces it left empty created a lengthy walk to the entrance.

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Stuff you don't expect to see speeding around the Nürburgring

The Jag at 1:29 and Volkswagen Bug at 3:26 are my favorites. Read the rest

Wedged Wonders: pointy concept cars of the seventies

Wedged Wonders is a gallery-tribute to futuristic Italian concept cars from '68-'79. Read the rest

Purposely stalling 20% of cars in Manhattan could trigger total gridlock

If a hacker targeting connected cars in Manhattan could randomly stall 20% of them during rush hour, total gridlock would ensue. “This isn't just bad traffic where you are an hour late. It becomes impossible to get from point A to point B,” says Georgia Institute of Technology researcher Peter Yunker who ran a study on the "cyberphysical risks of hacked internet-connected vehicles." From IEEE Spectrum:

Not all cars on the road would need to be self-driving and Internet-connected for such paralysis to occur. For example, if 40 percent of all cars on the road in Manhattan were online and autonomous, hacking half of those would suffice.

...Cities without large grids—-Atlanta, Boston, and Los Angeles, to name a few—were more vulnerable to gridlock from such attacks.

Yunker and his colleagues cautioned that they considered only static situations where roads were either blocked or not blocked. Future research with more dynamic models would likely show that blocked roads would spill traffic over into other roads. Given such effects, it might be possible to trigger gridlock by stalling much less than 20 percent of all cars, Yunker says.

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U.S. warned Tesla to stop giving "misleading statements" about the Model 3's safety

In an October 7, 2018 blog post, Tesla claimed that the Model 3 achieves the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by NHTSA. Alas, no.

NHTSA Chief Counsel Jonathan Morrison sent Tesla CEO Elon Musk a cease-and-desist letter in October last year to say it had become aware of “misleading statements” made by the company about the vehicle’s safety rating.

The agency’s main contention was with Tesla’s claim in a blog post that month that NHTSA tests showed the Model 3 has “the lowest probability of injury of all cars the safety agency has ever tested.”

Tldr, the agency insists that its crash ratings in the warehouse, the stars, aren't injury probabilities on the road. Here's the cease-and-decist sent to Tesla, exposed with a FOIA request.

It includes a response from Al Prescott, Tesla's deputy chief counsel, telling the NHTSA it doesn't understand its own safety tests and claiming that it is "taking sides" among auto manufacturers.

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Police: No, a corpse doesn't count toward the HOV lane passenger minimum

On Monday, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka pulled over a minivan in the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane because nobody else was visible inside except for the driver. Turns out, the driver works for a funeral home and was transporting a body. From the Reno Gazette Journal:

"He immediately tells me he's got the remains of a person in the vehicle behind him, so I kind of glanced in the back and confirmed that,” Smaka said of what he saw in the cargo area – a bodybag strapped to a gurney. “It kind of threw me off a little bit, and then he just made the funny remark, something along the lines of, 'So he won't count?'.."

Nevada's HOV rules do not clarify whether an occupant must be breathing and leans on federal law, which is not much clearer....

An official with the Federal Highway Administration said it is up to individual states to define what an occupant is – and referred the USA Today Network to the Nevada Department of Transportation for additional information.

“When you talk about high occupancy vehicle lanes, you’re talking about seats – so a person would need to occupy a seat to qualify,” said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jason Buratczuk. “This person was obviously a decedent and in the cargo area of the car, so they would not qualify for the HOV lane.”

The officer let the driver off with a warning.

image: SounderBruce/CC BY-SA 4.0 Read the rest

Telsa's In-Car Gaming System Looks Kinda Meh

If you've been holding off on buying a Telsa Model 3 until you found out whether the car's arcade functionality was worth the electric ride's asking price, wait no more.

In this video, The Verge breaks down its experience with the Model 3's in-car gaming system. From what I can see, you can have damn near the same player experience with an iPad and some duct tape in the drivers seat of a 1998 Volkswagen Jetta. Read the rest

The world's first Tesla pickup truck

Master maker Simone Giertz and her friends transformed her Tesla Model 3 into an electric pickup truck. Their fake TV commercial is above; build video below. TRUCKLA: Available nowhere. Now.

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Oscar Meyer Wienermobile replica owner regrets purchase, selling it on Craigslist

How's this for a sales pitch: "The Weinermobile as a daily driver was a novelty and enjoyable for about a week. Now I suffer." It's yours for $7,000.

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