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Weird Stuff

Robert Opron and the Simca Fulgur: Better Than Nostradamus?

The question as to where all the flying cars are now that we’re in 2020 has become a bit of a cliché.  It’s been a bit of a cliché ever since we hit the new millennium. This is a reference to the way that popular culture envisioned what family cars would look like in the 21st century.

However, at least one car designer had ideas that were a bit more down to earth – literally.  The year was 1958 and the designer was Robert Opron. This designer had accepted a challenge to produce a concept car for the 1959 Geneva Motor Show for his parent company Simca. Never heard of Simca? This was a French company owned by Fiat that rivalled Citroen for the title of “France’s answer to the VW Beetle”. I owned one back in my student days – possibly a Simca 1300; it had a front engine like a normal car rather than a rear engine and it’s probably worth a mint now, so I’m rather regretting selling it. Its only quirk was a flaw in the speedo: after it hit 50 mph, the needle went back down even when I accelerated.

Anyway, enough memories of student cars and back to Robert Opron.  Opron later took his genius to Citroën, then Renault, then Alfa Romeo. He has been recognised as one of the top 25 designers of the 20th century, although he wasn’t the chap responsible for the very distinctive Citroen 2CV. The Renault Alpine was his, though, as were a number of 1980s Renaults.

Opron had come across a challenge issued by the Journal de Tintin.  Yes, that’s Tintin as in the intrepid red-haired reporter who has a dog called Snowy and a best friend called Captain Haddock.  The challenge was to design a “typical” car for the 1980s or for the year 2000. The challenge included a list of specifications that had to be included in the design, including the following:

  • fuelled by a nuclear-powered battery or a hydrogen fuel cell with a range of 5000 km
  • running on two wheels, balanced gyroscopically, at speeds over 150 km/h,
  • voice controlled
  • radar guidance for navigation and for detecting hazards
  • top speed of over 300 km/h
  • automatic braking if it detected a hazard
  • headlights that adjust automatically with speed

Although Opron didn’t produce a full working prototype, he did show a shell of the concept at the 1959 motor show and the full details of the concept car, known as the Simca Fulgur, were published in the Journal de Tintin (this suggests that it would have appeared alongside The Red Sea Sharks and/or Tintin in Tibet – just in case you were curious, like I was).

The Simca Fulgur – which takes its name from the Latin word meaning “lightning” – looked like the classic Jetsons flying car, except it didn’t fly. It captured the public imagination somewhat and became the basis for what people thought futuristic cars would look like. Or what UFOs would look like – take your pick.

Anyway, from the perspective of late October in 2020, 61 years later, it’s amusing to take a look at the cars of today and see how close we’ve actually come to getting some of these features. How well did the Fulgur predict what we’d have on our roads?

  • Voice control: Yes, we’ve got this, although it’s not quite a case of telling the car your destination and letting it get there (they’re working on that). But you can use voice control on quite a few things, including the navigation system.
  • Top speed of over 300 km/h: Yes, but most cars that are capable of this have their speeds limited for safety purposes.
  • Autonomous braking and hazard detection: Yes. However, human input is still needed.
  • Automatically adjusting headlights: Yes, although they adjust for the ambient light levels rather than how fast you’re going.
  • Electric motor with hydrogen fuel cell technology: Yes, although the range isn’t anywhere near what was predicted. We’d all love a range of 5000 km in an EV (electric vehicle) or HFCV (hydrogen fuel cell vehicle).
  • Electrical motor with nuclear power: Are you kidding me? Since Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear power isn’t quite the sexy answer to our energy problems that it was back in the 1950s.
  • Balancing on two wheels with gyroscopic stabilisers at speeds over 150 km/h: No. Just no. If you want that sort of thing, get a motorbike, not a family saloon.

All in all, not too bad a job of predicting the future, Monsieur Opron – you did a better job than your compatriot Nostradamus.

An Automated Way of Life

Instead of a person performing tasks like accelerating, braking, turning or changing lanes, an autonomous vehicle uses its sophisticated vehicle computer system to calculate, monitor and perform these everyday driving tasks itself.  Australian governments are working together to make sure that automated/autonomous vehicles can be legally and safely used when they are available for purchase in Australia.  Already today, some new cars have automated features such as self-parking, active cruise control or lane-keep assist.  These features assist the driver with driving, but a licensed human driver is still in control of the car.  Over the next few decades vehicles will likely become increasingly automated, and eventually a human will not need to drive a car at all.  Think of the road network of the future being a giant computer programme that is performing the road transport requirements for the people.

Whether we like it or not, the onset of automated vehicles is upon us.  In fact, in America, automatic road trains/trucks to get goods from one depot to the next is already reality.  Several companies, including Aurora, Daimler, and Embark Trucks, are competing for a slice of the future of self-driving freight trucks.  Waymo is also expanding its own self-driving trucking routes throughout the American Southwest and Texas, following previous tests in Arizona, California, Michigan, and Georgia. This long-haul automated trucking works well in America, and it could be key for Australian trucking companies in the near future.  While most of the current use has been on iron ore and coal mines, the roll-out of autonomous fleets in Australia is spreading.  Newmont, Australia recently announced plans to make the Boddington mine the world’s first open-pit gold mine with an autonomous haul truck fleet.

So maybe the order of automation roll-out might be trucks first along with public transport, and then private vehicles to follow?  The implementation of autonomous vehicles isn’t a cheap dream.  Understandably, the level of research and development, as costly as it is, is so important to ensure all road users remain safe in-and around an autonomous vehicle.  The sort of research and development needed for safety reasons costs loads of money, and this (as always), along with the requirement of actually keeping people safe while implementing the use of autonomous vehicles, are the real brakes on the realization of the dream for complete global autonomous vehicles.  But is that just the tip of the iceberg?

Autonomous vehicles obtain emerging technologies that can potentially disrupt cities, economies, infrastructure and the way we do life together.  Add those truths into the mix and we can see what a phenomenally expensive, chaotic and disruptive new technology this is, but the actuality of total autonomous transport could be astounding!  Not something that’s everyone’s cup of tea but definitely worthy of at least partial implementation.  Maybe that’s the way it is going to be introduced, subtly and gradually over time so people can get used to paying for it as well as using it.

How To Identify A Boy Racer Car

We might loudly proclaim that we hate them and that they’re annoying, but deep down inside any serious motorist, very well hidden indeed, is a wee bit of a boy racer. Just a little bit of one.  Otherwise, why would we be so drawn to high-performance vehicles with motors that roar and purr?

All the same, few of us over the age of 35 would really admit to being a boy racer, especially if we happen to be girls. We keep that part of us well hidden and only let it out in small doses occasionally.  We drive sensible family vehicles.  If we do get to the point where the budget allows us to plonk down our hard-earned cash on a high-performance vehicle, we prefer something that combines true performance with understated style. Others of us, of course, simply own the whole boy racer image and want a proper boy racer car that looks the part. Or, more precisely, the sort of vehicle that a boy racer car aims to imitate.

The true boy racer car isn’t quite the same as a high-performance machine. To really qualify as a boy racer car, one has to take a fairly sporty number that doesn’t cost the earth (Nissan Skylines and Subaru Imprezas used to be fairly popular but there are others) and then modify it like crazy. Not just any modifications, either. If you tinker with and tune the engine to boost its performance, what you can end up with is a “sleeper” – a vehicle that might look ordinary but isn’t. Boy racer modifications are all about attention-grabbing looks… and sounds. It’s about making heads turn, especially the heads of younger drivers. It’s the motoring equivalent of pouring on half a bottle of aftershave in an attempt to impress the ladies (note: we’re not going to be that impressed).

These vehicles are referred to in the US as “ricer cars”, which is a gender-neutral term. However, I have a suspicion that this may be a slight racial slur, as I have no idea what these cars have to do with rice, apart from the fact that the cars that usually get these modifications tend to be of Japanese origin, though not always. I’ve seen pictures of some BMWs, Fords and Holdens pimped up like crazy. So “boy racer car” is what I’m going to have to call them – I mention the term only so you can have fun Googling bad examples.

To be a true boy racer car, at least three of the following modifications ought to be present:

  • Dramatically lowered suspension. This seems to be the only actual mechanical fine-tuning done to a boy racer car, as the aim is to improve the handling and make the ride a bit stiffer just like a real sports car. The rule seems to be that the lower it is, the cooler it is. Just don’t take it so low that you can’t clear the kerb or speed bump.
  • After-market spoilers. If done well, a good after-market spoiler will give extra grip and improve the on-road performance. It’s a matter of aerodynamics. However, the stereotypical boy racer hasn’t quite got it into his (it’s usually his, rather than her) head that it’s not how big it is but how it’s applied that counts. What you’ll end up seeing on a boy racer car is a massive spoiler. Sigmund Freud wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised…
  • Other body kit. If you can’t actually lower the suspension, make the car look lower by adding side and front skirts.
  • Fancy paint jobs. Go-faster racing stripes and decals are just the start. The idea is to look something like a professional racing car but without actually having any sponsors. There seem to be two main schools of thought in the paint jobs of boy racer cars. One goes for the racing car look, with longitudinal stripes and chequered flags. The other type goes for bright custom colours, often neon green, purple, hot pink and similar gaudy shades.
  • Aftermarket alloys. OK, this one isn’t unique to boy racer cars and it is possible to put on alloys that look tasteful and add a bit of personality. However, if the alloy wheel is enormous and/or brightly coloured, it’s definitely getting into boy racer territory.
  • Tinted windows. Not just subtle tinted windows or tinting that comes from the factory so that you aren’t dazzled with glare on a bright sunny day. We’re talking about stick-on tinting from your local automotive supplies shop so dark that you can barely see who’s in the car.
  • Bonnet blowers. While these have a serious purpose if the vehicle in question has been given an engine upgrade and needs to be cooled more efficiently, in a true boy racer car, it’s for looks. Again, the mentality seems to be that the bigger the better. Never mind that something that big is going to interfere with the aerodynamics.
  • Loud exhausts. Nothing says “performance” like an exhaust that roars and screams like an animal. This feature is found on classier vehicles as well. Jaguar designers, for example, are known to carefully tune the note of the exhaust so that it evokes the perfect visceral response. Boy racer cars, however, don’t have quite the same type of finesse and just go for decibels.
  • Even louder stereos. If they can’t go fast enough around town to bring the noise of the exhaust into play, then the stereo is the way to catch people’s attention from at least a block away or two. The stereos have enough bass to make the ground shake and the vehicle vibrate visibly to the point where onlookers wonder if it will make the ridiculously big spoiler held on with superglue fall off.

If you think I’ve missed any of the key characteristics, then add your suggestions in the comments below!

Red Planet Rover: Perseverance Pays Off.

Late evening Sydney time, July 30. An Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral, on Florida’s south eastern tip. At 191 feet in height, it’s barely half as tall as the mighty Saturn Vs that lifted off from the same area in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It’s also just a few feet taller overall than the full space shuttle assembly.What makes this launch important is the cargo. Perseverance, a new Mars rover and named by Alex Mather, a now 13yo schoolboy from Virginia after NASA had a naming contest, is the reason for the launch and is expected to land on Mars in February, 2021. It’s the newest and better version of the two valiant rovers already on Mars, Spirit and Opportunity. Both landed on Mars in January of 2004, and far exceeded their design specifications.
NASA learned many things from the efforts of the pair, and this includes for Perseverance a better power source, more cameras, and for the mission, a dedicated suite of investigative tools. the aim? To look for signs of any lifeforms, existing or previous, in the landing site on Mars. Jezero Crater is the chosen point, and for the possibility of life due to the postulation water once flowed there. A fan-shaped delta indicates water flow and the clay material is why NASA has chosen that site, with the thinking the clay may have signs of microbial life.

Perseverance itself is a bit of a beast. At roughly the same size as a micro-car, the rover is bristling with tools that will dig, drill, photograph, and listen for the first time ever, to Mars. A pair of microphones have been fitted to Perseverance, along with Mastcam-Z, a stereo-imaging zoomable panoramic camera system. Rimfax (Radar imaging for Mars sub-surface experiment) is a sub-surface (up to 10 metres) radar scanner that along with Perseverance’s autonomous driving programming, will measure the ground under the six driven wheels and hopefully avoid the sandtrap that stopped Spirit in her tracks. A boom arm of 2.1 metres in length and hinged in five places will hold the mechanisms to drill into the surface. In a first, samples will be stored and eventually launched from the Mars surface and rendezvous with a craft and return the samples to Earth. This is expected to be accomplished in a decade’s time.

Sherloc (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) and Watson are the pair of cameras up front, and they’ll work together to provide spectrometry in the ultra-violet spectrum. Supercam is a laser powered micro-imagining device, and perseverance can keep an eye on the weather thanks to an inbuilt weather station called Meda (Mars environmental dynamics analyser) which will measure temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity, radiation, and dust particle size and shape. And in an exciting experiment, Moxie (Mars oxygen ISRU experiment) will use the thin Martian atmosphere as a source to see if oxygen can be produced.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the Perseverance design is how NASA has fitted Ingenuity. This is a drone ‘copter, and will fly above Perseverance to map out a way forward, plus it will be the first aircraft to fly upon a world other than our own Earth. The blades are a two by two configuration, and are constructed of a carbon-fibre foam core mix. The landing legs are carbon-fibre, and the blades circulate under a solar panel that will both drive the blades and provide power to the senors & cameras underneath.Perseverance herself is a re-evolution of Spirit and Opportunity. The wheels have been increased from 50cm to 52cm for a greater rolling diameter. The design and the construction of the wheels has changed to allow for more durability with aluminuim and titanium being employed. Extra equipment sees Perseverance up to 1,050kg in mass over a predecessor, Curiosity. She weighed in at 899kg.

Power comes from a plutonium dioxide pack weighing 4.8kg and producing 110 watts. A pair of lithium-ion batteries will supplement this on demand. Dubbed the MMRTG, the multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator replaces the solar panels that are susceptible to dust coverings and subsequent power loss. It’s not cheap to build, at over US$109 million…The expected lifespan is 14 years.Perseverance is due to land on Barsoom, a name given to Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs in one of his early 1900s novels, on February 18, 2021. The landing process is fully autonomous and NASA describes it as “seven minutes of hell” as the lander goes from 21,000kmh to virtually zero to land, safely, on Mars.

What Can A Motorist Do During Lockdown?

Although the restrictions aren’t in place all across the country, the state of Victoria is having to cope with lockdown. We sympathise, we really do. It’s not easy and we wish you all the best.

The lockdown rules mean that you’ve only got four reasons for being in a vehicle on the roads: “to shop for food and essential goods or services; to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment; to exercise or for outdoor recreation; for work or study, if you can’t do it from home” – and that’s a direct quote from the website. You are also advised to “not travel further than you need to”. This means that you probably won’t have much luck convincing the Powers That Be that driving counts as “outdoor recreation”. Of course, if you’re an essential worker, you can keep on working and driving to work (actually, that’s one of the four reasons). Enjoy the clear roads and drive safely, even if you’re exhausted.

So what can a keen motorist do during lockdown to keep that part of their psyche satisfied? The most obvious answer is to spend time during lockdown playing motor racing games on whatever device you fancy. This is all very well and there are some great ones out there that help you fulfil your racing driver or speed freak fantasies. However, one has to remember that (a) don’t get too used to driving that way, as you can’t walk away from a car that crashes by flipping end over end in real life and (b) there is only so long that you ought to spend hogging the X-box or PC console.

There are other things that are (mostly) more productive to keep you occupied. Here are a few suggestions that you can try:

  • Take the time to deep clean the car you own. You know that you need to keep it clean and to get all those stray chips out from under the seat. Now’s your chance. Give your car a bit of TLC and really see it gleaming. While you’re at it, do all those little maintenance jobs on your car that you’ve always meant to get around to.
  • If you don’t know how to do basic maintenance jobs on your car, this is your chance to learn how. If there isn’t anybody at home with you who knows how to do all those little jobs like checking and topping up the oil, rotating the tyres, or whatever needs to be done, then the internet has a lot of useful videos. Watch a few to get an idea of what’s needed, then have a go. If you do know how to do these maintenance jobs and you have kids at home, teach them how to do the basic things. Even if you don’t have anything that needs doing right now, show them how to change a tyre. It’s a life skill that everybody needs to use at some point, in contrast to quadratic equations, which only get used by a few people (including motor engineers).
  • Spend time browsing and learning about all the great new models and makes out there. Who knows, when all this is over, you might decide it’s time to get a new set of wheels. Our car reviews may be a great place to start.
  • Order a model car online and make it up.
  • Read a good e-book or listen to an audiobook on any motoring-related topic.
  • Play with the toy cars with the kids – and teach them about road rules while you’re at it. Sound effects are encouraged.
  • Use those motoring magazines you’ve got stashed away as inspiration and try your hand at drawing.

Iconic Screen Cars That Aren’t 007’s Aston Martin

If you mention iconic screen cars or movie cars, it won’t be long until the Aston Martins driven by the various incarnations of 007 are mentioned. After all, the long-running Bond series or franchise is practically synonymous with the Aston, and there’s debate about which of the Bond cars was the coolest (with a few honourable mentions going to the aquatic Lotus in The Spy Who Loved Me). However, what about all the other movies (and TV series) that have seriously cool sets of wheels? What are some of the other iconic drives, whether they feature in motoring movies or not, that aren’t associated with Bond, James Bond?

Here’s my pick of instantly recognizable cars from the screen, big and little…

Mini Cooper

It carries out the famous chase scene in The Italian Job, it’s Mr Bean’s drive of choice on the small screen and the big screen, it turns up in one of the Bourne movies, and a fleet of them act as the ghosts chasing a giant Pac-Man in Pixels. With the ability to star in thrillers as well as comedy, this makes the beloved Mini a pretty versatile actor.

VW Beetle

OK, how many cars get to star in a movie all of their very own? Or, for that matter, six movies, spanning from the late 1960s through to 2005? And their own TV series? Yes, we’re talking about Herbie the Love Bug, that absolute classic Volkswagen.

DeLorean DMC-12

We may have passed 2015 but the Back To The Future is still a fun watch. If it wasn’t for this movie using the futuristic-looking metallic DeLorean as a time machine, the DeLorean would have been as forgotten as the Geely Rural Nanny but without even the silly name.

Ford Camaro

If you talk to a non-petrolhead about a Ford Camaro, they’re likely to look at you blankly. If you mention the Transformers Bumblebee car, they’ll instantly know what you’re talking about. Bumblebee is so recognizable that it seems unthinkable to have a Ford Camaro that isn’t yellow.

Dodge Charger

If it didn’t feature a Dodge Charger going over a jump, then it wasn’t really a Dukes of Hazzard episode. It’s gathered some controversy about that Confederate flag painted on the roof (let’s face it: a good chunk of us Down Under didn’t realise was the Confederate flag from the US Civil War but just thought of as “The General Lee’s Logo”; we didn’t know who the original General Lee was either). Even if it’s just plain 1970s orange, it’s still instantly recognizable, almost as much as Daisy’s cutoff denim shorts.  Oh yes – it also took centre stage in the first of the Fast and Furious movies (what number are we up to now?).

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

Another beauty from the 1970s, commonly known as KITT and as much a star of Knight Rider as Michael Knight. It’s not for nothing that a few people of a certain age have opted to have the navigation system of their vehicles talk with this voice. Pontiac really ought to make a limited edition version using modern tech that was just a fantasy in the original series… but not the turbo thruster that practically made the Firebird do suspension-wrecking jumps. A Trans Am also featured in Smokey and the Bandit.

Ford Anglia

This is another vehicle that would have been forgotten by all except a few classic car enthusiasts but was re-introduced to a new generation by the Harry Potter books and films. For you muggles who haven’t read or seen them, the 1962 Ford Anglia belonging to Arthur Weasley was enchanted to fly, turns feral after crashing, then saves Ron and Harry from a tight spot involving giant spiders. People of a certain age are likely to turn to look twice at all light greeny-blue cars of this era just in case it’s a Harry Potter Anglia.

Classic Car Movies: The Car Is The Hero.

There are some topics in life which are more divisive than pineapple on pizzas. Star Wars versus Star Trek, Holden versus Ford, Connery versus Moore. Best car films in any discussion fall into the divisive category.

What makes for a good car film, though? Is it the car or cars that are why the movie is regarded as a classic ? The story line? The set pieces? Trying to pin down a definitive list is impossible, so we thought we’d shop around and get an idea of what people thought. One film that was a clear favourite is a home grown production.

Starring a young up and coming actor named Mel Gibson, it’s a movie that brings in just about everything a good car film needs. Action, pathos, a chase scene or three, “The Goose”, and of course that incredible XB Falcon. “Mad Max” is a film that simply can’t be overlooked.Steven Spielberg is best known for a few films starring Harrison Ford and a mind-blowing sci-fi film or two. However, an early part of his career involved a story that is about is simple as it comes. With minimal dialogue it relied on Spielberg’s ability to heighten tension with a simple camera move. Starring Dennis Weaver and based upon a book written by a car driver that had a similar experience with a mad truck driver, “Duel” remains one of the most gripping films of its kind nearly fifty years on.It’s almost impossible to write a list of car films without including this entry. The stars of the film were three little machines designed by Alec Issigonis. The story line, again, was simple. Money, in the form of gold bullion, a few gags, some brilliant scenery and an amazing chase sequence, toss in the broad Cockney accent of Michael Caine, and you have “The Italian Job”. This one celebrates fifty years or delighting audiences.It was agonizing to toss out some of the films that could have made the cut. There is the original “The Fast and The Furious” from 1955, and the remake & subsequent series of films. There was Jason Statham’s “The Transporter”, and the sublime recreation of the relationship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in “Rush”.

But number 4 goes to a Steve McQueen favourite. Based on real life events, and featuring film from one of the races itself, “Le Mans” takes our fourth grid spot. Packed with macho appeal, and the sense of unburnt “gasoline” hovering around the screen, Le Mans was notable for the bravery of the cameramen hanging on to the cars and heavy cameras of the time.Number five features a product of Ford. It also happens to feature McQueen. It’s a film that has an unbroken street based chase scene of nearly ten minutes. Two cars were used, powered by a 325hp 390ci V8 powering down through a four speed manual. The film is, of course, “Bullitt”.  The car? A 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2+2 Fastback. We know there are plenty of truly classic films that are built around and feature cars as the real heroes of the films. Let us know your thoughts. http://credit-n.ru/avtokredit.html

Flying At Ground Level.

A certain British car show once had a story about a car powered by an engine sourced from a WW2 fighter plane. It was a spectacle to behold with flames, sparks, and smoke being emitted as it was piloted around the show’s test track.

British based John Crowhurst is one member of a very select group that has similar thoughts to the builder of that car. John, formerly based in South Africa, has found an engine that comes from the same basic aeronautic background, however it’s a British engine, not German.

During WW2 the Merlin engine powered planes such as the iconic Spitfire. Rolls-Royce sourced parts from engines that had been in crashed aircraft with the hope of being able to use them for something else during the war. A home was found for the project by using these parts as the basis for an engine that was called Meteor.
The Meteor engine was built for and used in tanks and was used until 1964. One of these has been repurposed to be the powerplant for a handbuilt car that John, sadly, can’t legally drive on UK roads.

It’s a V12 configuration, something that fans of Jaguar or Aston Martin can appreciate. But it’s the capacity that gives pause for thoughts. Consider for a moment that a Holden 5.0L engine was 308 cubic inches. John’s beast is 27.022 litres or a whopping 1648ci!
Naturally something this big needs a good (great?) cooling system and John has fitted a set of tanks that have a total of 70 litres worth of fluid capacity. This is where the Australian based Davies, Craig have joined the party. Two of the biggest electronic water pumps that Davies, Craig have, the EWP150, were sent to John and have been fitted, one at the rear and one at the front end for the radiator.

The car itself is built on a ladder chassis with tubular components forming the upper body structure. It’s strong but flexible enough to deal with the 631 horsepower and 1449 lb-ft (470 kW and 1964 Nm).

John’s naturally quite happy with this laments that, in his extensive sponsor list, he doesn’t have a fuel supplier. Why? At around 100 km/h or 60 mph it uses a litre of fuel every mile.
At least it won’t overheat thanks to the two Davies, Craig EWP150s! http://credit-n.ru/offers-zaim/sms-finance-express-zaimy-na-kartu.html

Private Fleet Car(?) Review: Santa’s Sleigh

At this time of the year, one particular vehicle is commented on, illustrated and watched for (on Google’s Santa Tracker, for example). It has come to my attention that we haven’t reviewed this vehicle yet for Private Fleet.  Unfortunately, it won’t be available through our car reviews page, as it’s an extremely limited edition vehicle and pricing information isn’t available. Nevertheless, because this is the Christmas edition of the Private Fleet blog, let us now present you with the official Private Fleet review of Santa’s Sleigh.

Make and Model: Santa Sleigh, Yuletide Saturnalia variant.

Years manufactured: First reviewed in 1821, then modified in 1823 by Clement Clarke Moore’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  Updated in 1939 to include Rudolph. Prior to this, Santa’s transportation of choice has included a white horse (possibly eight-legged). The sleigh concept was apparently imported from Finland – obviously some winter rally driving expertise went into the development of this vehicle.

Top speed: According to an article originally published in Spy magazine that worked out the physics of Santa’s Sleigh, the top speed required by Santa’s Sleigh is 650 miles per second, which is about 3000 times the speed of sound. As the sleigh operates silently without sonic booms, we suspect that the sleigh makes use of hyperspace and multiple dimensions to cover the necessary distance.

It is not known if any other vehicle can match this speed, although it was once given some stiff competition by Six White Boomers (snow white boomers) who raced Santa Claus through the blazing sun on his Australian run. It is thought that these may be used as his hot weather equivalent for Outback use.

Engine: The very best in German engineering, the Dasher-Dancer-Prancer-Vixen-Comet-Cupid-Donner-Blitzen-Rudolph unit is laid out in a V configuration.  The actual power output of this unit is uncertain, as the power equation requires us to know the weight, which is unknown and also is linked to gravitational force acting on mass, and the sleigh may have anitgravity features. The power requirements of interdimensional or hyperspace physics are also uncertain. Torque is not applicable, as this refers to rotational acceleration; as a sleigh uses runners rather than wheels, the acceleration – which is considerable – is linear rather than rotational.  The 0–100 km/h time is phenomenal and is probably measured in nanoseconds.

Fuel type:  Runs exclusively on biofuels, mostly carrots, with refuelling stations provided along with milk and cookies (or mince pies and sherry, depending on the household) down many chimneys.  Emissions are also environmentally friendly and while they contain some greenhouse gases in the form of methane, the majority can be used for compost or can be broken down by algae for biodiesel (as invented by Rudolf Diesel – a relative of the other Rudolph?). We presume that the compost is used to grow carrots, possibly enhanced by fairy dust and magic.

Seating: One main seat is provided for a driver, although smaller passenger seats may be installed for elf assistants.  A pinhead may also be provided for angels to dance on, as angelic beings are multidimensional and multiple entities are thus able to occupy the same unit of space-time (so that’s how the interdimensional capacity of the sleigh is worked!).

Lights: Bioluminescence provides the main lighting system.  Fairy dust and candles may also provide auxiliary lighting. The most notable feature of the lighting system is the Rudolph front fog light, a nose so bright and you could even say it glows. The Rudolph feature is illegal in most countries, which do not allow red lights on the front of vehicles.  We can therefore assume that the North Polar road regulations are different from those of the rest of the world; the importance of red in the total ensemble also suggests this.

Off Road Ability: The off-road ability of Santa’s sleigh is second to none.  Not only are sleighs and reindeer superbly suited to winter driving conditions without the need for snow chains, Santa’s Sleigh can go further off the road the most vehicles.  According to the original reviewer, Clement, “when they meet with an obstacle, [they] mount to the sky”.  Flight capacity is an essential feature of this vehicle, so ground clearance is, theoretically, infinite.

Cargo Capacity: The cargo capacity that is usually depicted as being located to the rear of the sleigh and is styled to resemble a sack probably also makes use of hyperspaces and interdimensionality.  According to the Spy magazine review, Santa delivers to 378 million children (this figure doesn’t include Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim children, who have their own traditions and figures).  Quick experimentation with a sturdy hiking sock and a couple of small beer bottles reveals that the typical stocking contains approximately 1 litre, giving the sleigh a cargo capacity of at least 378 million litres.

Safety Features: The braking system allows the sleigh to go to a complete standstill from Mach 3000 almost instantaneously.  As the sleigh appears to use multiple dimensions and appears to be weightless, it is possible that an antigravity function is at work and the braking ability is achieved by suddenly switching this off so the force of gravity can slow the sleigh to a standstill.  It is no wonder that the driver comes with side and front airbags installed.

Sound System:  Similar to other wintertime forms of transportation involving animals with a bouncing gait, music is provided by small bells attached to the harness: jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.

Driver Assistance: Some navigation appears to be provided by the Rudolph package, which was specifically asked to guide the sleigh one foggy Christmas Eve.  Stop-go functionality, off-road ability and possibly steering are completely voice activated:

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

 

“Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

 

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St Nicholas too.

The sleigh also seems to have automatic parking ability.  Reindeer are capable of seeing light in ultraviolet spectrum that humans cannot see and each reindeer has a 310° field of vision; detecting signals in the remaining rear 50° degrees is handled by the ears, which are capable of tilting in any direction.  Possibly, the elf assistants also provide rear sensor ability.

It is probably just as well that all these driver aids are provided, given the British, Irish and Australian trend of leaving alcoholic beverages out for the famous and presumably immortal driver.  These units of alcohol are probably not off-set by the milk and cookies provide in the US.  Even given the noted bodyweight of Santa Claus, the amount of alcohol would probably put him well over the legal limit in all countries, probably excepting the North Pole.  However, as only one accident has been recorded involving Santa Claus (involving Elmo and Patsy’s grandma, who was reported to have been drinking too much egg-nog and to have forgotten her medication when she got run over by a reindeer), the sleigh operates at full speed and with perfect safe handling year after year, so the driver assistance and collision avoidance ability of the sleigh must be superb and flawless.

Have a safe Christmas and New Year season, everybody.  And for goodness’ sake, leave the high speeds and driving under the influence to Santa.  His vehicle is built handle it.  Yours isn’t. http://credit-n.ru/offers-zaim/joymoney-srochnye-online-zaymi.html

Roads With A Difference

There are some pretty amazing roads around our world that might just be worth going to see.  Following are spectacular roads that have world record status, and you’ll see just why these ones stand out.

The Road Of Bones

1/            First of all, here in Australia we have the world’s longest road.  Highway 1 circumnavigates the continent and travels around the outside of Australia for over 14,000 km.  Along the way, you’ll be passing through some incredible scenery as well as some of Australia’s major cities that include Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide – along with a huge number of smaller towns.  Northern Territory roads allow a speed limit of 130 km/h on open road travel.

2/            Head over to Saudi Arabia and you’ll be able to take yourself down the world’s straightest road: Highway 10, Saudi Arabia.  This road was originally built as a private road for King Fahd and connects Highway 75 to Highway 95.  It runs for almost 240 kilometres, and is the perfect straight road to try out your Lane Assist and Fatigue Warning safety features!

3/            The world’s twistiest bit of road is found on Lombard Street, San Francisco, USA.  Unbelievable, the road features a 400 metre slope with a 27% gradient and a sum total of 1440 degrees to turn through and has a 5 mph speed limit.

4/            For those of you with a head for heights: you will enjoy the world’s highest roads around Uturunku, Bolivia.  Not only do they have amazing views but they are over 5500 m above sea level.  You will feel the lack of oxygen on this run!

5/            There are also roads that travel below sea level, and, in Israel, Route 90 is home to the world’s lowest road.  The road follows the western side of the Dead Sea where the water is so salty that you can go for a swim and float unaided.  No fish or plant-life are able to survive in this salty environment, either.

6/            Temperature is always a great leveller, and in Russia you’ll find the world’s coldest road that is called the ‘Road of Bones, (or M56).  Not for the faint hearted, the M56 has claimed many people’s lives whose cars have broken down and they’ve frozen to death.  Travelling in convoy is best.  During winter the temperature is rarely warmer than -30C.

7/            The world’s oldest road is the Via Appia, Italy.  Parts of this road have been preserved and are only open to pedestrians.  The Via Appia is located in south east Italy and can be dated back as far as 312 B.C.

8/            Our neighbours over the Tasman sea can lay claim to the world’s steepest road which is called Baldwin Street and is found in Dunedin, New Zealand.  Walking up Baldwin street can be as much fun as driving up it.  If you do drive up, just make sure there is room to turn around because it can be alarming having to stop just before the top of the road – your Hill Start Assist might just come in very handy.  A popular activity is to roll M&Ms down it!

9/            The world’s widest road is the ‘Monumental Axis’ found in Brasilla, Brazil.  In one part it is 250m wide!

10/         You are sure to find the world’s longest road bridge called the ‘Bang Na Expressway, Bangkok, Thailand entertaining.  Lasting for over 50 km, the bridge required an enormous 3.84 million tonnes of concrete in its construction.  Needless to say it wasn’t cheap to build, costing as much as £770 million to complete it build.

11/         On the other hand, the world’s tallest road bridge is the ‘Millau Viaduct’, France.  At its highest pint it is almost 250 m high!  The views are awesome.

Who said civil enginering was ever boring.  Let yourself loose on these roads, and you’ll have plenty of new conversation starters. http://credit-n.ru/offers-zaim/creditplus-online-zaimi.html