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The following stories and unusual news clips are an attempt to capture a little bit of our unique American car culture. Here you will also find stories about a boy's first car, learning to drive a straight shift, being involved in an accident, obsessions with certain cars, and generational car cultures. You'll also find news snippetts that illustrate America's special wierdness about the automobile. Contributions to this section are welcome. If you are interested writing for TCGOB, click here.
Unusual Car News
American motorists miss exhaust backtalk: (from newscientist.com) Two California inventors lamenting the loss of "the endearing and unique audible sound signatures" of the 50s, 60s, and 70s automobiles have decided to do something about it. Their suggestion is to record the exhaust notes of classic cars and electronically engineer them to be played inside the car. They suggest that new technology will allow these exhaust sounds to be played in conjuction with the car's CD or radio. Thier dream doesn't end there... they don't want just a single "monotone drone", but they want to synthesize the recordings so that they can be linked to the car's engine and respond to revs, acceleration, etc. This may sound far-fetched, but the technology does exist. Mike Edwards, who works for Kenwood, says that they developed such a device backwards. Meaning, they were working with technology to cancel engine noise. Before they suceeded, however, they found that they could make a "Ford Escort sound like a Ferrari."
A stern warning for fans of TCGOB's "Driving Songs"?: (from newscientist.com) Drivers listening to fast tempo music have twice as many traffic accidents as drivers listening to slow tracks according researchers at an obscure university. Here's part of the actual story from newscientist.com.
With the car now the place where people most often listen to music, the research is worrying. While previous studies have shown a link between loud music and dangerous driving, Warren Brodsky at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, wondered if tempo had any effect on driver behaviour. To find out, he put a group of 28 students through their paces on a driving simulator. Each student drove round the virtual streets of Chicago while listening to different pieces of music, or none at all. The students had an average of seven years' driving experience. Brodsky chose music with a variety of styles, ranging from laid-back George Benson ballads to the ultra-fast numbers beloved of clubbers. The tempo ranged from a slow 60 beats per minute up to a fast and furious 120 beats per minute or more. All the music was played relatively loudly to maximise its effect. As the tempo increased, Brodsky found drivers took more risks, such as jumping red lights, and had more accidents. When listening to up-tempo pieces, they were twice as likely to jump a red light as those who were not listening to music. And drivers had more than twice as many accidents when they were listening to fast tempos as when they listened to slow or medium-paced numbers.
Pardon us, but we here at TCGOB are feeling the tug of social responsibility upon hearing of this. We also feel compelled not to insult the intelligence of our readers. If you are visting this site, or any other car enthusiasts web site, you are not an average driver. Car entusiasts as a whole are a responsible bunch who respect the power of the automobile. We're not saying that none of you would feel the need to press that accelerator when presented with a good driving song, a responsive vehicle, and an open stretch of highway. The difference between a car guy (or gal) and your average to below average driver is that when we drive fast, we do it for enjoyment, not because we are influenced by music or a need to get to work or the grocery store a little faster. And we do it with full awareness that we are exceeding the speed limit and/or taking risks, while accepting the possibility of a ticket. To us, this article only tries to distract people from the real danger on the road out there.... all those self important twits who can't seem to put the phone down long enough to take a drive.
John Boy and Billy search for ugly cars: Be sure to visit www.thebigshow.com and check out JB&B's search for the ugliest car in America. There's only two entries so far, but they promise lots more. To read the story of the making of an ugly car, click here.
all articles by Steve Wingate unless otherwise noted.....
Automotive fumbling at it's very best. Originally appeared on musclecarcalendar.com
Just a little stroll down amnesia lane. Originally appeared on musclecarcalendar.com
I've gained a new respect for all those guys behind the scenes of NASCAR since I myself started trying to do a little bit of what they do…. Namely, understand cars. I bought a 1984 Trans Am and a Haynes Repair Manual six months ago in hopes of becoming a real car guy, not just someone who sits at a computer and writes about them. more...
I'm afraid of our car. Really, I'm terrified of it. It's never given me a reason, it's just a feeling I have. Very probably an irrational feeling on my part, but it still vexes my every waking moment. more...
It wasn't too long after I received my first car, a 1975 Chevelle Malibu, that it began to give me trouble. The big car was plagued with a series of random mechanical failures and maladies that left me on a first name basis with the tow truck driver from Smith's Chevron. He still sends me Christmas cards... more
It was a Christmas not unlike many others around my house growing up. Except this year, I was sixteen and hoping Santa would stuff a Camaro in my stocking. I would have to rely on Santa because my father was no help. One month earlier, my father had informed me (in that gentle, concerned way that only dads can do) that there was no way in hell I was getting a Camaro... more
It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the concept of dumb luck, that the only really neat car I ever owned was the only car I ever wrecked. In 1993, I purchased a 92 Ford Probe GL with only 13K on the odometer... more
The year was 1985... I was sixteen years old and looking for a car. What I really wanted was a Camaro, but my father had told me many times that the only way I was going to get a Camaro was if angels suddenly flew out of my arse or if barnyard swine took flight or if there was a harsh winter in Hades. Needless to say, my Camaro-getting outlook was bleak. My parents openly offered me their 1972 Volvo many times... more
How many times has this happened to you? You're sitting at a red light, perhaps peacefully picking your nose or engaging in minor ear wax excavation, when you begin to hear a steady BA DOOM DOOM BA DOOM DOOM, as if a tyrannosaurus is charging towards your car... more
I have been obsessed with cars as long as I can remember. My mother often told me that my first word was not "mama" or "dada", but "car." I believe my grandfather, an avid car collector, had a lot to do with this. He often made the trek from Verbena, Alabama to Birmingham to visit his grandchildren, and it seems that every time he did, he showed up in a different car. On one visit he would arrive in a 1965 Cadillac convertible, then on the next trip he would be driving a Citroen or a Peugeot... more
2003 Car Guy of Benchfield