New SCX Citroen C4 WRC

Test Drive: Ferarri California!

Hi folks -- Ed Garten, I wish you were here!

Thanks to friend, collaborator, and former San Diego Automotive Museum Curator Rebecca Morales, I had a special treat on the beautiful North San Diego County afternoon today. Perhaps because Rebecca had at one time organized a Ferrari exhibit a the museum, or who knows what else, she was invited to a special Ferrari test drive at a resort (Rancho Valencia) north of San Diego. I went along, and though a bit of luck, also got a test drive of the Ferrari California. It was a special event that featured champagne and appetizers, and a only a few people were invited. Peasants rarely get in the door here, but somehow I managed without pretending that I was a member of the custodial or service staff.

After signing a release and having my license checked, I was on my way with co-driver and professional driver Nicholas Kunewalder. While waiting my turn I had the most delightful conversation with Nick's mother, who really is a fascinating and lively individual. While Rebecca drove a red Ferrari (what else?), I drove a gray model with a tan stitched leather interior. Nick let me drive the car as I liked, up and down shifting with paddle shifters that were a blast to use once I got accustomed to them. There is no clutch pedal on this car. It has a top speed of 193 mph, and as Nick said, the car costs $1000 per mph, or $193k. Actually, with a few options it normally comes out to $204k, but if you ask maybe that is a tip off that you really can't afford this car.

The ride was terrific, extremely tight, and of course downshifting while passing was remarkable. The beauty of this car is how easy it is to drive and how comfortable it is. I could easily see one driving this car cross-country (back to Ohio, Kaye?), and you could not do that with ease in any previous Ferrari model without feeling it a bit.

Nick has a passion for safety and driver education. He feels strongly that students should take a real driving course, not taught by a shop teacher but by someone who knows the art of driving. If this were to happen, fatalities among the young would decrease markedly. I agree wholeheartedly -- let's get real driver ed in the schools before another young person dies needlessly.

Lightning McQueen Volvo Rally Art Car

Lightning McQueen Volvo Rally Art Car Central

If you were 3 years old, what car do you want your parents to own? It's not an easy question to ask a 3 year old as there answers are limited. However, Lightning McQueen surely has to be one of the top. And, if you need a sporty looking vehicle to base your Lightning McQueen on - what would you choose? A Volvo 740 of course.

In this case, three grown adults made the car of their dreams, apparently. A Volvo 740 plucked from obscurity that had spent its life driving round the UK's home counties, was now made into an art car. And driven across Europe repeatedly on our events.

I've never actually worked out what the motivation to make this car was, apart from further capitalising on a Cars dvd they had obviously bought.

You may be wondering whether there are any similarities between this car and a real sports car. There aren't.

However, the side effect of being the proud owner of Lightning McQueen meant that the owner was constantly bugged by their kids to take them to school in Lightning, which included half the kids from the neighbourhood. As the owner lamented one day, we can do the school run in a brand new Mercedes, or Lightning. Lightning won every time.

So there we have it. How to impress your children. Make Lightning McQueen.

By Justin Clements Street Safari

Lightning McQueen Volvo Rally Art Car Central

Lightning McQueen Volvo Rally Art Car Central

New SCX Renault 5 Turbo

New SCX Cuda

Speed doesn't kill people, cars hanging from trees in Australia telling people that "speed kills", kills people

Speed Kills Art Car in Western Australia
Again with the hanging car, but this time its a warning to other drivers in West Australia that "Speed Kills". But did did it ever occur to the marketing genius that distraction also kills. What is the point of slowing down only to run into another tree while trying to read the sign. Two weeks later your car is up on a tree down the street saying "Billboards Kill". Speed doesn't kill people, cars hanging from trees in Australia telling people that "speed kills", kills people. Photo by Owen

On Wisconsin (so go the rest)

It's too bad it takes an internet meme to make us realize - much too late, self-evidently - the real value of teachers and other state employees:
Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:
*South Carolina -50th
*North Carolina -49th
*Georgia -48th
*Texas -47th
*Virginia -44th

Wisconsin is #2 in ACT/SAT scores. Re-post if you think this is important.
Where it starts to get really ugly is when the lies quickly get mixed up with the facts. Indeed the Wisconsin state unions offered concessions with their pensions and benefits as an alternative to losing their collective bargaining power. Indeed Governor Scott Walker ignored those offers of negotiation and is now attempting to legislate their collective bargaining rights out of existence. Indeed, the police and firefighters unions who were spared their right to collectively bargain on the virtue of their previous endorsement of Walker have now rebuked him in support of their brethren.

But, a claim is now also making the rounds that Wisconsin actually had a budget surplus and that Walker has engineered the crisis to pay for his corporate tax-breaks.

It's bullshit.

The figure being cited by Rachael Maddow and her sycophants omits over $200 million owed to state programs ("But ignoring it would have meant turning away eligible Medicaid clients, which was not an option..."), and could be an additional $200 million in the red if additional debts are figured in, pending a court ruling. As well, the hits from the tax breaks won't hit for another two years.

Scott Walker is specifically targeting the collective bargaining rights of state workers because he knows what the people repeating these memes and distortions do not: that the overall financial pie is getting smaller and will continue to do so. Targeting the strength of these workers to negotiate their earnings is the Right Wing's longer-term strategy for holding on to their total volume of resources, versus keeping merely their share, relative to the rest. The growth simply isn't there to support the infrastructure we've built for ourselves over the 20th century without cannibalizing - as in this case - functions deemed "less essential."

The proof is in the "fine print" as the JSO notes with regards to the Medicaid debt. Those arrears were obviously deemed "least essential" by the state, until it was evident they couldn't get out of paying those debts, legally. So, the plan then became: make up the difference by screwing those who can be screwed legally. Only "screwing" isn't exactly a mandate and now we have the present situation in Madison on Capital Hill - mobs of protesters eating in the cafeteria intended for the politicians, who - Democrats anyways - are on the lam to prevent a quorum from being established to vote on the pending bill.

This explanation leaves some bigger questions hanging, and to answer those we need to look at the bigger picture. Why isn't there growth to support the debts being incurred by Wisconsin, and of course other states, including Illinois? This lack of growth is evident globally, in fact. Look at what's going in the Middle East due to fuel and food shortages, as well as the riots in Greece, The UK, and France earlier last year in response to very similar budget tightening measures.

The pie, as I mentioned, has been getting smaller every year since global oil production peaked in 2006 (even the Wall Street Journal acknowledged the premise in 2008, and the IEA declared it so last year.) This is a very...big...problem, and what we are seeing in Wisconsin and world wide is just the beginning of the reprecussions.

At the core of it is the following paradox: a global financial system predicated and fully dependent on constant growth to pay the debts incurred by the creation of wealth, driven by loans, yet fueled by a finite resource. Yes, that growth comes from (came from, sorry) the increasing net energy available to us, through energy production. It's what made us as a society more productive each year.

The industry countered the Peak Oil announcement by saying that there was plenty of oil being discovered all the time, and that we'll always be able to switch to other fossil fuels, such as methane, or to electric cars, not to mention renewables.

Indeed, there's plenty of oil. But the reason why this article is wrong and highly misleading is that it doesn't account for "net energy," ignores the downward curve of global discovery - inexorable since 1964 - and it repeats the economist's mantra - predicated on our financial system requiring growth - that the more energy we consume, the more we produce.

Unaccounted-for net energy and what basically amounts to ignoring the 1st law of thermodynamics were the principle arguments of three prominent "Cornucopians" debunked in Richard Heinberg's 2002 book, "The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies."

Heinberg, and other "Cassandras" as they are known, state that while half of all the oil we've ever discovered may still lie underground, it's the harder-to-get-half. The net return, once the increasing amounts of energy invested in extracting the oil are accounted for, will get lower and lower, resulting in higher and higher prices.

Oil accounts for 40% of the world's total energy needs and simply replacing that energy through other means without considering the effects of the cascading consequences is pure folly. Not the least of which is that all of the infrastructure changes required to make such a shift are still dependent on an oil-based system. And others, such as Bush's "hydrogen economy" are pipe-dreams, net-energy losses.

And most basically, the fact that no other fuel comes close to conventional oil's efficiency and convenience. Billions of years of sunlight, locked up in a drivable, flyable, shippable, pipeline-able package, all at our convenience.

Our total net energy available to us has begun decline and it will not stop until it reaches equilibrium. Who knows where that will be? The Earth's population was about 2 billion before the industrial revolution began in earnest around 1850, and now stands at 7 billion.

And that brings me back to Wisconsin and the reason why the Tea Party is growing in popularity, and will continue to grow, to the dismay of the more level-headed among us. They represent unthinking reaction, lashing out at the decline in living standards. They can't accept that those previous standards they took for granted simply aren't possible to such a large portion of the population anymore, hence the disappearing middle class.

And finally the election of Scott Walker, et all. They will deliver scapegoats and the promise of the status quo. Not the painful truth.

It's like a trust fund kid who's money is running out and has to take the bus from now on.

Contraction is coming, in a big way. We've far overshot the natural carrying capacity of our environment - artificially inflated by the energy from fossil fuels, a once-in-a-planetary-lifetime shot, and we've squandered it in little over 200 years.

It's a long way back to equilibrium. Put your head between your knees and hang on. Get a bike. Plant a garden. And get a gun.

This one's gonna be a mother. Let's hope the bidding war launched by the shortages is waged with cash, and not warheads.

Written in 2009:
I know that I have only seen it rain
That never has it stormed within my path
I read the pages, looking at the pain
And heard the ruminations on God's wrath.
I cow'r in fear to dwell upon my fate
That's been foretold by corpses walking past...
They cackle at my slick-skinned naivete
With toothless leers and bony fingers crossed.
Expensive clothes and robes now turned to mold
Rotten, sour agelessness of excess
To be undone by no amount of gold -
Illuminating only scars and sadness.
While great swaths of fire, birthed by lightning,
Clear the remains of every living thing.

Art Cars Hanging Out To Dry in Chile

Art Cars Hanging Out To Dry in Chile
Art Cars Hanging Out To Dry in Chile - Photo by Eliseo Fernandez / Reuters

Just got a tip from Kelly Lyles owner of Excessories Odd-Yssey about some pretty art cars hanging out to dry in Valparaiso, Chile during the National Festival Of Arts. Shown here with Generik Vapeur playing his bagpipe which I guess helps paint dry faster???

Top 10 Things Customers Hate To Hear From Car Salesman


1) How much do you want to pay per month? This is a question that is abused by many sales people, I have been guilty of this one myself. Salesmen ask this so they can land you on a car that maximizes profit and commission to the sales person.

2) When can your husband come to look at the car? Don't assume that women cannot make a decision without their husband.

3) Do you have good credit? Assume everyone can buy a car on credit. Do not judge a book by its cover.

4) "If I could, would ya". This is old school when the salesman was trying to get some sort of committment from the customer. "If I could sell this car for 10000, would you buy it today?". Maybe I am the only one that hates this one.

5) How much do you want for your trade in? This has to be one of the stupidest questions ever. What will a customer say? "AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE".

6) Another customer was looking at this car this morning and is coming back to get it. Customers response is usually, "if its gone, it wasn't meant to be".

7) Are you ready to buy a car today? I feel like any customer that is looking at a car is ready to buy if the car is right, price is right, and you don't ask stupid questions.

8) I'm loosing money on this car to sell it to you at this price or I am selling this car at cost. Give me a break, customers are not idiots. They know you would be out of business if cars were sold below cost!

9) Customers also do not want to hear the salesman bad mouth the competition. Point out differences that makes your car better, but DO NOT put the competition down.

10) Bad mouthing the trade in. Don't talk about how bad the trade is, that is usually why customers want to trade. They know what's wrong with it, you don't have to throw salt on the wound.

Let me know from a customers view or a salesman's view what you hate to hear. I would like to know how close they are to my top 10.

Autoworld Batman cars

From REH:
Autoworld is running a small batch of #185 Batmobiles in April since the first batch sold out so quickly. This is a very small batch, and it will not include iWheels.

The Road Car

The Road Car
In this case the car IS the road and called the "road car" brought to you by Brian in Michigan. The paint is that spray stone texture with some added black splatters. The double yellow lines are custom mixed house paint so that it peels and flakes with age JUST LIKE REAL ROAD LINES. By the way it shoots blood from the windshield wiper sprayers.

The Road Car
Close up of the "road car" texture. This is after a test spraying from the windshield wiper "blood" while going 60mph. The rain helped it flow better and wash off easily.

Jack Kerouac as a Prophet in On the Road: Arabs Coming to New York to Blow it up.

Hi folks -- my students are always teaching me something new, and that is clearly the case with this bunch at the University of San Diego this term. On Thursday a written review of On the Road was due in class and we had a discussion about that assignment. What surprised me was that a number of students had picked out of the book a sentence form page 117 of the Penguin edition:"Dean had a sweater wrapped around his ears to keep warm. He said we were a band of Arabs coming in to blow up New York." (p.117).

How in God's name did Kerouac have the foresight to use this kind of language and idea within the context of the early 1950s? Was it because of terrorism surrounding the founding of Israel? Any comments here would be appreciated!

Thanks to USD student Jennifer Chase for pointing this out in class and then following through by finding the passage.

Spaced out Moonraker Volvo Rally Art Car

Spaced out Moonraker Volvo Rally Art Car
From the deranged minds that brought you the Tank Volvo and Helicopter, we have a space shuttle theme.

Not sure what the background to the idea from these particular overachievers is, maybe Moonraker, but they decided to do a space shuttle theme, with a trailer tent (its like a tent, but on a trailer) with a world on it.

Obviously, making a space shuttle out of a Volvo just doesn't work (you need a BMW 1600 for that, which we shall show you in future weeks), so they made their own space shuttle, mounted two side boosters (SRBs) to the Volvo, and effectively made the Volvo into the external fuel tank.

Then, bolt a great big round piece of metal onto the trailer, paint the Earth on it, and hey presto, you have your very own horizontal Space Shuttle Program, with a diagram of the Earth on the trailer behind incase you forget what your home planet looks like.

The team (the overachievers) even put in some pyrotechnics so that the shuttle actually looks like it has an exhaust trail! We like. Partly because it's always fun to see a bit of thought behind these things, and partly because the chance of the whole thing catching fire is greatly increased.

The trailer tent deserves it's own 15 seconds of fame. It was possibly the mankiest tent you have ever seen in your life. They think the previous owners bought all the camping gear, went camping once, didn't like it, packed the tent wet (remember it's canvas), and let the whole thing fester and rot for several years.

When the team opened the tent for the first time in many years, there were literally bits missing from the canvas, large sections in fact.

But quick to their aid came some drinking aids. They installed a set of optics in the trailer for each evening, and as long as you got far too drunk, you didn't notice the howling gail in the car each night. Or at least, I think that's how that was meant to work.

By Justin Clements Street Safari

Spaced out Moonraker Volvo Rally Art Car

Spaced out Moonraker Volvo Rally Art Car

Spaced out Moonraker Volvo Rally Art Car

Call of the Syren - Goth 72 Cadilac by Christa Ansbergs

Syren Art Car 72 Cadilac by Christa Ansbergs
Syren Art Car at Art Car Fest - Photo by Bagel

Christa Ansbergs is the creator of a 72 Cadillac called Syren and is a regular participant at Art Car Fest where I met her. She loves the "goth" look and the darker side of life so she drives an art car to match.

When she went looking for the right car she considered buying a used hearse, but found that they were to expensive and a pain to maintain because parts were harder to come by. So she settled for a 1972 Cadillac DeVille and got going with her art car creation. She has painted flowers on the side, appropriate goth bumper stickers all over the trunk, rope arrangement across the hood, and spray painted lace pattern the roof with a chain fence. If you look closely syren has fangs in her grill, so  make sure not stand to close.

I also found a great picture of her at Maker Faire a few years back wearing a skirt she made from bike inner tubes, rolled up in the shape of a skirt and sown together to complete her goth outfit:) Sorry it took so long to put you up on ACC, but here you are, finally:) 

Syren Art Car 72 Cadilac by Christa Ansbergs
Syren Art Car at Art Car Fest - Photo by Bagel

Christa Ansbergs At Maker Faire wearing an Inner Tube Skirt
Christa Ansbergs at Maker Faire

The New Face of Corvette - Oprah Art Car and more

Oprah Corvette Art Car
Photo By karrelbuck
The Oprah Corvette Art Car could very well be one of the most amazing finds of my blogging career. I am not sure who would do that to Oprah or who would do that to a Corvette, but I have a sinking suspicion. I think its the same person who made the Oprah Cake to celebrate their new Oprah tattoo.

Oprah Cake

Oprah Tattoo

Oprah Tattoo

Oprah Tattoo

Oprah Tattoo

The Fantastic Life of Mercedes Art Cars

As the title sponsor of Berlin’s Fashion Week, Mercedes-Benz placed some of its own designs into striking art installations meant to represent the eras in which the cars were built.
As part of the “Recollection Quartett,” staged by Mercedes-Benz and MoMu Fashion Museum, Antwerp, Belgian artist and photographer Frederik Heyman placed four cars amidst updated stereotypes of the years between 1967 and 1991.
For instance, though the SL roadster shown above was built in Germany, the artist said it came into its own on Sunset Boulevard during the freewheeling 1970s. Though we seem to recall gas lines, Watergate and skyrocketing interest rates, Heyman and fashion designer Bernhard Willhelm pay tribute to those who spent the entire Carter administration on a mattress at Plato’s Retreat.
Interestingly, the 1980s-era W123 wagon best known in the United States for shuttling wealthy suburbanites between tennis lessons and the pool at the club was popular among West German lumberjacks, tradesmen and outdoors enthusiasts. Mannequins in shoulder pads surrounding an S-Class coupe underneath fragments of a globe made from a chess board represent wealth and power in the late ’80s, while the models’ long shadows show they’re also pawns in that game.
About the only installation we can instantly relate to is the one surrounding the rock-solid W115. Faceless businesspeople in gray flannel suits look like they’ve stepped straight out of a Magritte painting, while a secretary in the front seat types out an advertisement in Arabic that reads “Taxi for sale,” a nod to the livery service the venerable “Stroke 8″ models have offered around the world.
While the settings are certainly high-concept, they’re also proof that cars are as much a product of their respective eras as they are representative of those times.
Photos: Mercedes-Benz

The W115 was popular among business types and cab drivers in far-flung locales

Bobby Brown drove a 560 SEC, and so did world power players in the late '80s.

By Keith Barry January 21, 2011

Two Blue Supras -- a USD "auto" biography -- Jake Zawlacki

Hi folks -- as an aside -- some of the students I have in my current class at the University of San Diego are among the most interesting I have ever had -- and that certainly includes Jake. We share a common passion for going to Pick and Pull junk yards, and working on cars. The following is Jake's tale of two Toyota Supras.

Jake Zawlacki
Heitmann HIST
Feb 1, 2011

The Two Blue Supras

My Auto-Biography includes the tales of two cars, both 3rd generation Toyota Supras. My whole life I’ve been interested in cars. With the upbringing of grandpas who have old Willys and T-Birds, it’s not hard to see why. As a kid I would look at the gloss black Model A, the torn apart Model T, and the Hot Rodded 41 Willys all with the same eyes of awe. I couldn’t wait to buy my first car which ended up being a 72 Dodge Dart, but that’s a whole other story. After my adventure with the Dart, I (aka my mother) thought that it was time to get a car that would be reliable and more economical.
I must admit that I was lucky in that I was able to have a project car alongside a family truck that I could use when the car was apart. Once the Dart was gone, I bought a Dark Blue 87 Toyota Supra. It was pretty rough, and I really mean rough. The interior was shot. The previous owner thought that duct tape was aesthetically pleasing to the eye, so the steering wheel, center console, and door panels were covered in it. The paint was ok, except for the dents which were rusted and the broken plastic bumpers. The engine ran, which was all that I needed, so I bought it.
That was mistake number one. If the outside of a car looks rough, assume that the internals are rough as well. Within a month of owning the car it had a blown headgasket, a problem that has plagued third generation Supras since their creation. With the headgasket blown and being in undriveable condition, I had to see if it was worth fixing. In the end, my dad and I did replace the headgasket. This leads to mistake number two; not changing the oil after replacing the headgasket. I realize that this is a horribly novice mistake when working with engines but I’ll plead the fifth. My dad swears to me that he told me to do it, but like so many other things my parents say, I must have accidentally tuned them out.
If you know anything about engines, it’s that running an engine with low or bad oil ends in a truly catastrophic failure. And that’s exactly what happened. One night after a night with friends I decided it would be fun to try a burnout in the middle of the street. Mind you I was not under the influence of anything except the desire to burn some rubber. From a dead stop I mashed the pedal to the floor to hear a loud exhaust growl which ended in a consistent knocking sound… rod knock. I had never heard it before, but it’s hard to deny what is so distinct.
However, like the phoenix, the death of this Supra was resurrected through another. Luckily, I found a pretty cheap nonrunning Light Blue 88 Supra that wasn’t too far away from me. I went and looked at it, and picked it up for $600. This car was in surprisingly good shape with a nice interior and some good paint. This was a much better starting point than the first. That summer I managed to combine the good parts of the two cars and make one good looking Supra. I rebuilt the engine, new sound system, cleaned up and new interior pieces, painted body parts that where fading, and some new wheels and tires. Although everything I just mentioned fit into one sentence, it took about 3 months and is still an ongoing project.
I’ve learned more about cars from two Toyota Supras than I had from watching others work on them. To put your own time and energy into an automobile is something special because you are rewarded by it every time you turn the ignition. This Auto-Biography may not be as interesting as a road trip or something of the sort but it is the most memorable thing that I have about automobiles. My Supra has been running ever since with only one blown headgasket since the rebuild (one too many I might add), but I drive it every day to school and back. The story of The Two Blue Supras may be done but my Auto-Biography will be one that goes on as long as my own engine is still running.

Crazy Corvette Batmobile Mod

Crazy Corvette Batmobile Mod
This crazy Corvette Batmobile mod was sent in by Sonny Fenwick creator of The Bubble Truck . We don't know who, what why when, but we do know that it might be located somewhere in Panama City, Florida off high way 98. Will the owner of this Batmobile mod step forward and tell us more about it and where to get one.

Crazy Corvette Batmobile Mod

Crazy Corvette Batmobile Mod

TOP 10 TOTALS - Totaly Smashing

TOP 10 TOTALS  - Totaly Smashing
Seeing cars get totaled never gets old, Top Gear get is it right with their top ten totally smashing totaled cars.

Another Excellent USD "Auto" Biography -- Olivia Saladino & her Ford Explorer

Olivia Saladino
The Automobile & American Life
Dr. John Heitmann
February 1, 2011
Some of my most vivid childhood memories involve cars. When I was around five or six years old, I would anxiously wait for every evening when my Dad would let me “drive” the car into the garage. He would park his car in the driveway when he got home from work, and then come upstairs to get me so that I could drive the car into the garage. He would sit me on his lap as he sat in the driver's seat, and I would help steer the car and “drive” it into the garage. This became such an exciting nightly activity that my brother and I began to fight over who would get to “drive” the car into the garage every night. Sometimes my Dad would have to drive the car into the garage twice just so that my brother and I would both get a turn.
Another prominent memory I have involving a car is not so positive. I was about eight or nine years old and my Mom was driving my brother and I to ride the carousel at the mall, one of our favorite weekend activities. We were taking the scenic route to the mall, driving up Highway 1, or PCH as we call it. As we were driving through Laguna Beach in my Mom's mini-van, we hit the usual Saturday traffic. As my Mom was driving around a curve, the traffic suddenly stopped. She was able to stop without hitting the car in front of us, but the car behind us was not so lucky. I will never forget the sound of the mini-van being rear-ended. My younger brother, being only five or six years old at the time, was so startled by this noise that he began to cry. I had never been in any kind of car accident before, so I still had no idea what was going on.
“Mommy, what happened?” I asked.
“Oh my God, I can't believe this. Doesn't he know I have kids in the car?!?” My mom was angrily saying to herself.
“Mommy, what's going on?” I repeated. My Mom continued to angrily mutter to herself and did not respond. It was at this moment that it finally hit me that we had gotten into a car accident. I remember this moment very clearly because it was then that I got really scared and began to cry. The only thing I knew about car accidents was the few I had seen on T.V. when my parents were watching the news, and that they were scary. I also still remember the poor sixteen year old boy who hit us that day. He was a blonde surfer dude and I still remember how nervous he looked when he walked up to my Mom's window to apologize. My Mom was very upset that he had scared my brother and I so badly, so she really let him have it. I remember her yelling at him so loudly that it only made my brother and I cry harder. By the time they exchanged insurance information and filed a police report, my brother and I no longer felt like riding the carousel. Looking back on this memory now makes me laugh, but at the time it was very traumatizing. I was afraid to ride in a car for months after this incident, and it wasn't even a very bad accident.
Thankfully, my relationship with cars drastically changed when it came time for me to get my driver's license. When I was fifteen, I got my learner's permit. I was so excited to learn to drive, but a little concerned that it was going to have to be in my Mom's mini-van. My parents had been looking into getting a new car for the family, so I was able to talk them into letting me help pick it out so I could use it to learn to drive. I decided I wanted an SUV. My parents took me to test drive a Nissan Xterra, a Toyota Highlander, and a Honda C-RV, but none of them felt like the one. Finally we went to the Ford dealership and test drove an Explorer. I immediately fell in love with the car. I loved how high up I was and how smooth the ride was for an SUV. I really wanted a white one with tan interior, but my parents ended up choosing the more practical silver with dark grey interior. It has definitely grown on me. I was able to take my driving test in the Explorer, and I passed only missing three points. From there my real appreciation for my Explorer began. Having my own car gave me such a sense of freedom, and I loved it. The time alone listening to music in my car driving to and from school each day was an amazing new experience. I loved the freedom my car gave me to go places with my friends. However I did not experience true freedom with my Explorer until I took it to college with me. When I was still living at home, my parents would borrow my car whenever they wanted. Although I called the Explorer “my” car, it did not feel like mine with my parents using it whenever they wanted. When I got to drive my car from Dana Point to USD, the one hour trip was the longest I had ever driven alone. It was so liberating. It was from that point on that I truly felt that my Explorer was my own personal space that could take me wherever I wanted to go. I love my Explorer and I hope it stays with me for many more years.

Volvo Art Car Splattered to Perfection

Volvo Art Car Splattered to Perfection. I don't know maybe they missed a spot:)

A Fabulous USD "Auto" Biography -- Morgan Schwanke and an Accident He Will not Forget!

Morgan Schwanke
The American Automobile
Professor Heitmann
An Accident to Remember
When I saw the car in front of us swerve and fly across the center divide I knew immediately the outcome would be ominous. The accident happened right off Mission Boulevard in Mission Beach last spring, and my friend and I were the unfortunate witnesses of the tragic event. It was a nice, sunny day and my buddy and I were driving back to school for our afternoon classes with music playing and the windows down. I heard the sharp shriek of a breaking car, a sound I had heard before and knew was followed by the horrible crunch of a collision. There was a pause…where things seemed to go silent and I attentively listened. But as we turned the bend in the road I saw two cars collide head on followed by a massive explosion of sound and aluminum shrapnel. I had a sinking feeling as I saw the fronts of the cars in slow motion push against each other and the back tires of the cars rise up in the air and then fall back to the ground. From there on out everything seemed to be a blur.
We pulled our car over and were the first people to run over to the accident. Adrenaline and fear kicked into my body; half of me knew I needed to help in anyway I could and half of me was so scared by the scene I saw. As I got to one of the cars, I clearly remember the engine still on sputtering with smoke coming out of it, fluid leaking onto the ground, and a man with blood all over his face having a seizure. I didn’t know what to do, so I put my hand inside the car and turned it off while in complete shock and fear of the driver convulsing. I opened the door of the car and my friend and I just looked at each other not knowing whether or not to leave him in his seat in case he had serious broken bones or move him out of the car. As my friend stood next to the man, I looked around to the other car as the other drive stumbled out of his car onto the grass next to the road. Flames on the ground caught my eye from what must have been gasoline on the ground and the immediate image of cars exploding in action movies I have seen engrossed my mind. I told my friend that we needed to get both drivers out of the cars and far away from the accident because one of the engines was about to catch on fire. By that time, the man who was having a seizure had gone unconscious and we together moved what we thought for sure was a dead body out onto the grass about 100 feet away.
I specifically remember looking around at that point and noticing that almost 15 people had circled around the accident, only one lady was attending to the other driver, everyone else was watching, unwilling or too afraid to get involved in the situation. I made the assumption that at least one of these bystanders had called the police at this point in time and took off sprinting to a Chinese restaurant 100 yards away where I grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran back. By the time I got back to the car that originally had flames under it, the fire had spread to the engine and the whole front of the car was smoking. I used the entire extinguisher to put the flames out in the engine and for a moment, I thought I had extinguished it. But within seconds, the flames caught back up. I had no idea that the metal of car could catch on fire so quick, but within three minutes the entire car was in flames as the interior burst into flames and the metal structuring blackened. Luckily, I found out that day that cars don’t explode but rather burn slowly, at least until the flame reached the gasoline tank in which there was a rather violent, but not deadly explosion.
The first officers on the scene were the Mission Beach lifeguards who began attending to the unconscious man, but did not have the appropriate supplies to do much. The next thing that happened I did not understand until I realized what the driver was going through several days later. The man who was unconscious came to and immediately became extremely frightened as he was in very bad shape and there was a great deal of blood everywhere. He could not talk but progressed to forcefully stand up despite us trying to keep him down and tried to escape or run away. It took my friend and I, along with two lifeguards, to hold him down on the grass as we reminded him he would be ok and to stop resisting. He was literally going into panic mode trying to bite us and escape in any way. It took nearly 15 minutes for the police to show up, which made the man even more frightened. The police were forced to put the man in a neck brace and tie him down to a stretcher. I later found out that he was most likely on some sort of drugs and had a seizure while he was driving causing him to swerve into oncoming traffic. Most likely, the last thing he remembered was he was driving normally down Mission Boulevard and the next thing is he woke up to was a horrible car accident, which would explain his adrenaline, confusion, and fear.
I learned many things about myself that day. Firstly, I am glad that I am not one of the ten to fifteen people that will stand around and watch a tragic situation like that and refuse to get involved. I also learned that I might have saved someone’s life that day and I that cars do not explode like in the movies but do burst into flames and burn completely. It was a once in a lifetime experience…and I hope to God it stays at ‘once’.

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University of San Diego student "Auto" Biography -- Jordan Jadallah, an Audi S4

Jordan Jadallah
February 9, 2011
American Automobile


“It’s here.” My dad said to me over the phone as my body filled with adrenaline, excitement and goose bumps.
“Oh my god. I’m on my way.”
It was just after 3:00 PM, my dismissal from my last class of the day at school. It is finally February 29th, 2010.
I ran to the parking lot and jumped in my car and immediately left. I was tempted to speed because I couldn’t wait, but didn’t, to avoid getting pulled over and having to wait 15, 20 minutes even longer.
3:20 PM. I got to my father’s office complex. There she was, parked in my dad’s spot. Brand new. Barely driven. Brilliant black color on the exterior complete with 5 spoke 19” wheels. It looked even more gorgeous in person and I couldn’t even believe it.
It was finally here.
My dad had just purchased a 2010 Audi S4, complete with the perfect combination of options. I used to have a Mazda 3, which I dearly missed until this day, and he used to have a 2008 Jaguar XK. We both got rid of the cars to buy the Audi and share it.
I got the key from my dad, and sat in the car. The speedometer read 42 miles, which didn’t last more than a minute. I pushed in the clutch, and put in the reverse, putting her in motion for the first time in our relationship. I already have a very good feeling that she was going to be the one. I slipped the car into first gear, and pulled onto the main street then shifted into second gear. I pushed down on the accelerator, not sure what to expect. I knew it packed 340 foot pounds of torque, but I had no idea what that would feel like. I immediately got sucked into the seat and let off the accelerator. It was fast, but incredibly smooth. I shifted directly in 5th gear at 45 miles per hour. The RPM gauge currently read around 2000, so it was quite low. I didn’t expect anything when I hit the accelerator again, when she suddenly lurched forward and shocked me with her torque.
Twenty minutes later, I came up to one of my favorite corners in the town. It was nearly 90 degrees to the right, and I had taken this so many times in my old Mazda. I took it at the same speed as I would have in the Mazda, and she laughed at me. I might as well have gone around the corner at 5 miles per hour. I went back and took the corner again, this time faster. I swear she said to me, “That’s all?” Third time going into the corner, I went a little faster, and didn’t hit the brakes at all. As I started to turn, I felt a little under steer, but for some reason she reassured that I would be ok. I keep the steering wheel in the same spot, ready to catch the car if it continues to under steer. All of the sudden, the Quattro system shifted all of the torque to the outside wheels flawlessly and off to the apex of the corner I went. It was perfect, effortless and astonishing.
I couldn’t wait to take her on the track.

University of San Diego "Auto" Biography-- Dominick Sciola -- a 1967 Corvette Sting Ray

Dominick Sciola
Memorable Car Experience
HIST 378
I have always had a strong affinity for the automobile and have been fascinated by the beauty and performance of those that stand out. I have to admit that I am one of those “gawkers” that has to stop, catch my breath, and stare at a fine piece of craftsmanship whenever I see one while on the road. I look at it as an opportunity to stop for a second, forget about all the minor things we worry about on a daily basis, and take pleasure in one of life’s small but wondrous joys. I can confidently say this character trait of mine has been passed onto me by my dad, who too has a deep appreciation for truly magnificent cars. Hence my most memorable experience is without a doubt one I shared with him in his 1967 Corvette Sting Ray during the summer leading up to my freshman year of high school.
I never considered myself a classic muscle car fan until my dad invited me to drive up the California and Oregon coast in his brand new ’67 Vette. He on the other hand had always dreamed of owning one, and when he found the perfect one for him, he quickly snatched it up from Phoenix and invited me to drive it back with him to our home in Seattle. Despite never having even heard of this car at the time, I agreed to take him up on his offer and ride with him. Little did I know how much I would enjoy this opportunity.
We took separate one-way flights for our adventure, with me flying down to San Francisco to wait for him while he went to Phoenix to get the car. We would rendezvous in SF at my brother Nick’s apartment where I was waiting. When he first arrived at Nick’s doorstep, I was taken aback by his new toy. The sleek look and powerful noise of the ‘Vette tickled my senses and I was suddenly quite eager to begin our adventure. We left that day and went on our way back home.
The drive itself was long by any ordinary standard, but flew by due to its extraordinary circumstances. I distinctly remember driving up the 101 freeway in the bright red ’67, kissing the California coast as we wove our way up the Pacific Ocean and letting the deep muscle car engine roar all along the way. We were in no rush to finish our road trip, but nonetheless took few stops. One of the few stops we did take was in one of Northern California’s many monolithic Redwood forests. It was quite ironic how we were now admiring one of nature’s most gorgeous works after experiencing the thrill of one of man’s finest.
The remainder of our trip was predominantly spent on the road and in the Sting Ray. We made the whole trip in two days, stopping at our cousin’s house in Newport Beach, Oregon to rest before the second day of our trip. Perhaps what made this experience most especially memorable for me was that I was able to share it with my dad. Looking back, I feel this was one of our greatest bonding moments and truly brought us together as father and son. This I feel is a characteristic that exemplifies fine cars and makes them so unique; their ability to create a special bond between two people. Every summer, I look forward to driving that car again with my dad. Although the local Seattle neighborhood does not compare to the Pacific Ocean, it is nonetheless a great pleasure to ride in his ’67 Sting Ray and spend a few moments with my dad.

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