Involvement In Traffic Jams Detrimental to Health

Muffler and tail pipe on a car

Image via Wikipedia

There was a new story posted today over at the Wall Street Journal of interest to all traffic jam sufferers worldwide. The story cites studies on exhaust fumes and their link to maladies. This test was done by scientists globally.

The results, though circumstantial, find a link between living near highways and slower intelligence, depression, anxiety, autism, and even Alzheimer’s Disease. The results were not that different between race and gender.

The next time you are stuck in gridlock… try keeping that out of your mind. Oh wait… forgetting is part of it, isn’t it? Wait… What were we talking about?

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Fonzie’s Motorcycle to be Auctioned

 

Below is a Press Release from Bonham’s Auction house.

Fonzie’s Motorcycle From Happy Days to be Auctioned

Henry Winkler as Fonzie

Henry Winkler as Fonzie

“Famous double-headline bike was owned by legend Bud Ekins.”

The 1949 Triumph Trophy TR5 Scrambler Custom ridden by The Fonz in the television hit series Happy Days will be one of the highlights at Bonhams’ upcoming Classic California Sale in Los Angeles.

Happy Days, the beloved American sitcom that aired for ten years from 1974 to 1984 and attracted millions of viewers each week, helped launched the career of such actors as Ron Howard, Scott Baio and Henry Winkler. Winkler’s character, Arthur Fonzarelli – known famously as The Fonz and Fonzie – was initially just a secondary character that became so popular with fans he was soon made the central figure of the show. As the epitome of cool, the motorcycle-loving Fonzie, dressed in the stereotypical garb of The Wild Ones, spawned countless wannabes among the youth of America and became a cultural icon that still resonates today. And Fonzie’s motorcycle, a customized Triumph, was owned off-screen by another cultural icon, Bud Ekins.

Image via Autoblog.com

The late Bud Ekins was famous as a motocross racer, Hollywood stuntman (he’s the one that made that legendary motorcycle jump over the barbed wire fence in The Great Escape), and as Steve McQueen’s best friend. With his warehouse of hundreds of motorbikes, Ekins was the go-to man in Hollywood when producers needed two wheels. So when the people from Happy Days called, it was Ekins who determined what the coolest guy on TV should be riding. Taking an old Triumph in his collection, he simply removed the front fender, replaced the handle bars and spray painted the tank silver and, violá, the Fonzie bike was born. Of course, no one had any idea of just how popular the show would become or the magnitude of fame Winkler’s character would achieve.

This now iconic emblem of American pop culture will be offered by Bonhams at their annual Classic California Sale, held November 12th, at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Renowned for offering property from famous actors each year – Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Clark Gable and Bruce Willis, to name just a few – this autumn auction is not to be missed by aficionados of pop and custom culture and entertainment and automotive history.

News Source: Bonhams via autoblog.com

The Automotive Landscape Is Changing

It may not surprise you that the Italian car company Fiat also owns other manufacturers named Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari, and others. But, did you also know that the same Italian powerhouse also owns a piece of Americana? Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram are all owned by Fiat.

Owning so many brands is a boon for the bean counters in each brand. It makes it easier to leverage models across the manufacturers. Leveraging in such a way spreads costs of development of one vehicle across all the brands, instead of each brand developing their own models. So now, even Maserati and Alfa Romeo are rumored to be working on SUVs based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the new Dodge Viper (expected in 2012) is rumored to be a Ferrari or Alfa Romeo chassis with Dodge body styling cues.

Dodge Viper 2003-04-19

Image via Wikipedia

I can understand the cost savings in leveraging. But, let’s hope that legends don’t get lost in the process. I think bringing the Viper to market with Italian mechanicals would be a shame. The Viper was always about brute muscular deep-throated exhaust tunes mixed with the sounds of shredding tires.

I have no doubt that the replacement for the Viper would be just as good if not better than the last one that rolled off the assembly line. However, the Viper has a legend all of its own. So, maybe the name should be retired too, instead of having a reinvention of the same idea. What I’m saying is that I’m all for a Viper replacement of a different name. Let the Viper name retire into the Hall of Fame it deserves. The new product shouldn’t try to make an Italian accented exhaust burble while wearing a Viper badge.

Tesla Model S

There is a myth out there that says, “Electric cars will either be prohibitively expensive, small, short ranged, or ugly, and will take forever to become practical mainstream vehicles.”

Well, Tesla Motors has been producing electric cars for years now. While many other upstart electric auto manufacturers (mainstream, not golf carts) have come and gone under the financial pressures associated with bringing an electric vehicle to the consumer at large, Tesla has been fine tuning its business relationships, buying factories, and debugging its initial test base, the Tesla Roadster (an electrified Lotus Elise). It’s been successful in doing it too!

Photo of the Tesla Model S, from the unveiling...

Image via Wikipedia

So successful, in fact, that Tesla found resources to develop an additional model. That model is the Tesla S. It will be hitting showrooms in 2012.

While the Tesla Roadster was that small, expensive electric vehicle that everybody uses as justification in ignoring the “electric revolution”, the Tesla S is different. It is more main stream in design and is a larger, 4 door electric vehicle. It is also not prohibitively expensive. In fact, its price point is on par with luxury sedans out in the market now, such as Cadillac, Lexus, BMW, etc..

Watch this video for a better perspective on the Tesla S.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JUFfk7GxEuw

Hybrids have been paving the way in changing the psyche of American car buying public for years now. The combustion engine is not the exclusive offering the United States anymore. Electric cars, once ignored, are also now gaining ground in the American market. But, the electrics that have been introduced so far by the mainline manufacturers have left the public wanting,… wanting lower pricing, more space, more range, or a more aesthetically pleasing design.

The Tesla Model S is an elegant 4 door car and less pricey than the Tesla Roadster thanks to improvements in technology and supplier relationships. It’s range is 160 miles (options are available for longer ranges). Pricing comes in at $49,900 (after U.S. Federal Tax Credit). AND,… it’s fast! Times for 0-60 are listed at 5.6 seconds. A future performance model will lower that time closely resembling sports cars.

As the Tesla S starts selling, more development money will come in to Elon Musk, the owner, which in turn will aid in bringing other models to the Tesla line at even lower price points.

You can find another story about the unveiling of the car here.

Although it has been a long haul for Elon Musk, one that almost brought him to financial ruins, he has made a strong case for the beginning of electric car acceptance by the car buying public. In fact, the mainstream vehicle line-up of many manufacturers may include several electric models in the near future thanks to the efforts of Tesla Motors. So, now you will understand when I say electric cars are not as prohibitively expensive anymore,… and are becoming practical mainstream vehicles.

The Search Is On!!

Picture courtesy of Autoblog.com

Back in 1977 there was a “Star Wars Space Fantasy Sweepstakes”. The Grand Prize winner won an amazing car, the Official Star Wars Celica.

The car was a 1977 Toyota Celica Liftback GT and it is now missing. Records of ownership have long since dissappeared, as has the car. But, somebody is looking for it.

You can find the stories about the search here at these two sites: http://starwarsblog.starwars.com/index.php/2011/09/23/1977-star-wars-celica-have-you-seen-this-car/#more-6945

And here: http://www.autoblog.com/2011/10/01/the-hunt-is-on-for-an-official-1977-star-wars-toyota-celica/