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(Auto News) Speeding motorist fined $290,000

By no1camaro

ZURICH (Reuters) – A millionaire motorist clocked up a record fine of 299,000 Swiss francs ($290,000) after Swiss police caught him racing through a village at 100 km per hour in his red Ferrari Testarossa, Swiss media reported on Thursday.

A court in the northeastern Swiss canton of St Gallen gave the millionaire the hefty penalty, which outstripped the previous record of 111,000 francs handed a Porsche driver in 2008 in Zurich, after a string of previous traffic offences.

"The accused ignored elementary traffic rules with a powerful vehicle out of a pure desire for speed," the court said in its judgment of the motorist, who clocked speeds of up to 137 km per hour on country roads, said daily Blick.

The St Gallen Cantonal Court ordered the man to dip into his 23.3 million franc fortune, which included a villa with a garage containing five luxury cars.

Court officials said they could not immediately confirm details of the case.

In October, St Gallen police pulled over another speeding motorist after he committed 15 traffic offences in 10 minutes, including driving on the hard shoulder, jumping a red light and failing to stop for police.

(Auto News) SKorean woman passes driver's exam on 950th try

By no1camaro

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - A woman in South Korea who tried to pass the written exam for a driver's license with near-daily attempts since April 2005 has finally succeeded on her 950th time.

The aspiring driver spent more than 5 million won ($4,200) in application fees, but until now had failed to score the minimum 60 out of a possible 100 points needed to get behind the wheel for a driving test.

Cha Sa-soon, 68, finally passed the written exam with a score of 60 on Wednesday, said Choi Young-chul, a police official at the drivers' license agency in Jeonju, 130 miles (210 kilometers) south of Seoul.

Police said Cha took the test hundreds of times, but had no specific total. Local media said she took the test 950 times.

Now she must pass a driving test before getting her license, Choi said.

Repeated calls to Cha seeking comment went unanswered. She told the Korea Times newspaper she needed the license for her vegetable-selling business.

(Auto News) Ohio man dressed as Breathalyzer accused of DUI

By no1camaro

OXFORD, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio man dressed as a Breathalyzer test for Halloween found himself blowing into one after police stopped him for allegedly driving the wrong way without headlights on a one-way street.

Oxford police say they stopped 20-year-old James P. Miller on Halloween night and found beer in his front seat and in the trunk.

Police say Miller blew 0.158 percent on a Breathalyzer test. The legal limit for driving is a blood-alcohol level of .08.

Miller was cited on charges including operating a vehicle while intoxicated, underage possession of alcohol, having an open container and a fake ID, and a one-way street violation.

Miller had no comment when reached at home Wednesday.

James P. Miller, 20, is shown Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009, in a police photo provided by the Oxford Ohio police department wearing a Halloween breathalyzer costume.

(Auto News) High-speed chase ends with push of a button

By no1camaro

DETROIT (AP) - When two Visalia, Calif., police officers swung their cruisers behind a sport utility vehicle that had been carjacked at gunpoint early Sunday, they prepared for a dangerous high-speed chase.

The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe roared away with officers in pursuit, but shortly after the suspect made a right turn, operators at General Motors Co.'s OnStar service sent a command that electronically disabled the gas pedal and the SUV gradually came to a halt.

The flustered thief got out and ran, but was quickly nabbed after he climbed several fences and fell into a backyard swimming pool, police said.

It was the first time since OnStar began offering the service in the 2009 model year that it was used to end a chase that could otherwise have had dire consequences.

"He wouldn't have pulled over if OnStar hadn't have shut the vehicle down," said Visalia Police Sgt. Steve Phillips. "Generally pursuits end in a collision."

The whole thing began when Jose Ruiz, 33, of nearby Lindsay, Calif., was sitting in his Tahoe in a lighted parking lot about 3 a.m. Sunday while his cousin was talking on a cell phone in the passenger seat. Out of the corner of his eye, Ruiz saw a man walking toward him.

"He already had a gun out," Ruiz said Monday.

The man pointed a sawed-off shotgun at Ruiz and ordered both men to get out of the Tahoe and empty their pockets. Ruiz's cousin at first refused, but Ruiz told him to obey, knowing that OnStar could find the stolen truck with a global positioning system.

"I was afraid he was going to shoot my cousin. My cousin was arguing with him," Ruiz recalled.

The cousin relented and the man sped off in the truck. Ruiz then sprinted for a nearby pay telephone to call police, but ran into a sheriff's deputy on her break who notified Visalia police.

Officers quickly contacted OnStar and got Ruiz's permission to find the vehicle. Police spotted it a few miles away, but as officers made a U-turn to pursue it, the Tahoe sped off at a high speed, Phillips said.

The suspect made a turn, and police dispatchers told the pursuing officers that OnStar was about to disable the Tahoe. It then rolled to a halt, and the robber was quickly captured.

The 21-year-old suspect was jailed and faces preliminary charges of robbery, carjacking, possession of stolen property and resisting arrest.

OnStar President Walt Dorfstatter said it took only 16 minutes from the time OnStar was notified for the vehicle to be stopped.

Visalia Police Chief Colleen Mestas said the new technology kept officers, other motorists and even the suspect out of a dangerous chase.

"Considering the violent crime that this suspect was wanted for, I was just amazed," she said.

Police chases often end in death, many times for the people in the pursued vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last year, 334 people were killed nationwide in crashes that stemmed from police pursuits, including five police officers, 235 people in the chased vehicles and 77 who were in cars or trucks not involved in the chases.

Ruiz said police returned his Tahoe, cell phone and wallet to him that night. The only thing they didn't get back was some cash taken from his cousin.

The stolen vehicle slowdown feature isn't offered on all GM vehicles yet, but the company hopes to expand it to the entire lineup as models are updated. For 2010, the feature is on 18 of the 30 models equipped with OnStar, a communication service that also can give directions or call for help if a car is in a crash. Dorfstatter said it will take several years for all GM models to get the feature.

Mestas, whose city is about 50 miles southeast of Fresno, hopes that both technology like OnStar and more police aircraft can minimize the dangers of chases.

"It would be nice to have a day in law enforcement that you didn't have to actively pursue suspects at high speeds," she said.

(Auto News) Ala. woman lets daughter ride in box on top of van

By no1camaro

ALBERTVILLE, Ala. – An Alabama woman has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child after police say she let her daughter ride in a cardboard box on top of their van. Albertville Police spokesman Sgt. Jamie Smith said the 37-year-old woman was arrested Sunday after police received a call about a minivan on a state highway with a child riding on top.

Smith said the woman told police the box was too big to go inside the van, and that her daughter was inside the box to hold it down.

Smith said the mother told officers it was safe because she had the box secured to the van with a clothes hanger.

The 13-year-old daughter wasn't harmed and was turned over to a relative. A jail worker said the mother was out on bond Monday.

The 20 Greatest Car Video Games

By no1camaro

The 20 Greatest Car Video Games

Our real-life cars are great, but we can't usually use them to catch funky crooks or evil spies, and we can't race them in Formula One — or in 2560 or 1967. Luckily, there's video games! Here's our twenty favorites.

Game: Spy Hunter
Creator: Midway
Release Date: 1983
Original Platform: Arcade

Why We Love It: Elegantly designed and incredibly well-balanced, but all we cared about in 1983 is that we had a Z28 with guns on it. Unlimited ammo machine guns. Also oil slicks, smokescreen, anti-air missles, and support infrastructure in the form of the weapons and replacement vans, and what else do you need from life as long as you had access to the sit-down version? Even the Peter Gunn theme never seemed to get old.

Game: Pole Position
Creator: Namco
Release Date: 1982
Original Platform: Arcade

Why We Love It: The faux-3D graphics, the inclusion of the more-or-less actual Fuji Racetrack circuit and the qualify-to-race format allowed certain junior car geeks to act aloof and superior to everyone else in the arcades. Hey, we all thought we were going to be nuked at any moment, and we were living for the moment, okay? Pole Position also featured in-game advertising, which seemed cool in those more innocent times.

Game: F-Zero
Creator: Nintendo
Release Date: 1991
Original Platform: SNES

Why We Love It: Listen, Mario Kart is great and all, but F-Zero was hardcore stuff. In the 27th century, gigaillionaires race cars which hover a foot over a track lined with damaging walls and festooned with magnets, mines, and slip zones. Unlock the Super Jet boost by putting in a good lap and you're in a for a combination of Pole Position and Sonic the Hedgehog, meaning that it was fun, colorful, and difficult as hell.

Game: Newman/Haas Racing Featuring Nigel Mansell
Creator: Acclaim
Release Date: 1994
Original Platform: SNES

Why We Love It: Now YOU can be Nigel Mansell! Er…great? Well, there weren't a lot of licensed games based on actual series for console owners in those days, and Nigel Mansell was pretty much the most complete. In the early '90s Mansell came over to the States from Formula 1, proceeded to trounce everyone on the Indy-series ovals with a combination of talent and stupefying bravery, and then put his intimidating Brit-stache on this perfectly adequate game. Interestingly, you could retire from a race, or a few in a row, with injuries to the driver, which was perhaps a nod to Mansell's 1993 injury at Phoenix, or perhaps just a really silly idea.

Game: Daytona USA
Creator: Sega
Release Date: 1995
Original Platform: Arcade

Why We Love It: Hey, you could race against up to eight of your friends! Or most likely the guy in the one other cabinet who has $14 in quarters up there, won't leave, and smells like gerbil bedding. Still, it was cool, and several different oval, road, and street courses were on offer, plus the option of manual transmissions, so you could actually get pretty wrapped up in it. And it ran extremely fast and smooth for the time. Sadly, instead of an evolved version, Buck Hunter and Golden Tee rule today's bowling alleys and bars.

Game: Twisted Metal
Creator: SingleTrac
Release Date: 1995
Original Platform: PlayStation

Why We Love It: Mario Kart was cute and all, but character-based car games were going away from races and more towards the fighting-game model. Twisted Metal was the car-combat result, and it was a huge success, even though its evil boss character was the already played-out evil clown. More importantly it had surprising tactical depth and a decent variety of stages and vehicles. Plus you could drop the Eiffel Tower on people, always a must for any fantastical demolition derby. Sadly, the series got "darker," supposedly, and less fun as time went on and people got bored by scary clowns.

Game: WipEout series
Creator: Psygnosis/SCE Liverpool
Release Date: 1995
Original Platform: PlayStation, PC

Why We Love It: Rave on, racers! While in many respects these games hew close to the F-Zero hovering rocket-car format, the production design is extremely 90s and the throbbing electronic soundtrack is extremely throbbing. It also happens to be very good arcade racing, if you can tolerate the well-executed if psychedelic atmosphere. Still popular among people who like their racing alternate and futuristic, their music futuristic and throbbing, and their consciousness throbbing and altered.

Game: Formula 1
Creator: Psygnosis
Release Date: 1996
Original Platform: PlayStation

Why We Love It: It may not have been a true simulation, but the first in-depth racing game for the PlayStation was a very good one indeed. Formula 1 featured the entire field and all the tracks from the 1995 season, full practice and qualifying sessions, and commentary by Murray Walker himself. Graphically, and in most other ways, it was a big step beyond anything else commonly available, and was arguably better than any of the next couple follow-ups in the series, which eventually bogged down somewhat in gimcrackery and tacked-on arcade modes.

Game: Streets Of Sim City
Creator: Maxis
Release Date: 1997
Original Platform: PC

Why We Love It: Before anyone figured out that manipulating simulated people were where it's at, simulated civil service and urban planning were a huge genre. Streets allowed you to be a puppet master by day and an automotive vigilante puppet by night; the streets you raced and fought on were the very ones you designed. It seemed like a novelty, but besides the racing and car combat it was remarkably absorbing to just cruise the streets of your very own metropolis, consider raising taxes again, and wonder why all your slums were invariably down by your stadium.

Game: Interstate '76
Creator: Activision
Release Date: 1997
Original Platform: PC

Why We Dig It The Most, Baby: It's car combat set against a malaise-era oil crisis with a 'sploitation sensibility, and it is funny and it rocks. You play as "Groove Champion," and you fight to stop OPEC from nuking Texas—for reasons that certainly must have seemed sound at the time—from behind the wheel and trigger of an alternate-universe Plymouth Barracuda. The combat mechanics are surprisingly detailed, the driving engine is consistent if unremarkable, and the soundtrack is huge, bass-heavy and fretless. There were sequels, but they didn't have the same magic. A great reason to own an older PC or to emulate.

Game: Grand Prix Legends
Creator: Papyrus
Release Date: 1998
Original Platform: PC

Why We Absolutely Adore It: A gem that slowly evolved into a masterpiece and ten years after its release is verging on a magnum opus. You want to talk cult hits and rabid fans? This little game, which started out as an extremely solid simulation of the 1967 Grand Prix season, still has a dedicated playing and modding community today, and when we say dedicated, we mean they're almost done putting together the entire Targa Florio course-all 45 miles of it. It's a classic example of a looks-okay-but-plays-amazing game, and if you're remotely interested in the game type and want to play alongside a passionate, dedicated group, this is exactly what you've been looking for.

Game: Gran Turismo series
Creator: Polyphony Digital
Release Date: 1998
Original Platform: PlayStation

Why We Love It: Without this game, would people still crave RHD JDM R34 Skylines, we wonder? Probably, but not with the same intensity. Aside from the 176-car menu, Gran Turismo introduced the joy of simulation, with its emphasis on careful setup and car control (if not damage modeling) to consoles. A great racing-school component, challenging event stages, and tantalizing unlockables kept a new generation of digital gearheads playing all night. It was five years in the making, but it was worth it, as every edition since has been a stunner, and there's every reason to suspect that long-delayed GT5 will be astounding as well. As for developer Polyphony Digital, who changed motoring culture by putting Skylines in their product, they now put their product in the Skyline; they famously do the dash graphics for Nissan's GTR.

Game: Crazy Taxi
Creator: Sega
Release Date: 1999
Original Platform: Arcade

Why We Love It: It's perhaps the last truly great arcade driver, Crazy Taxi is a roaming mission-based game of fare deliver with an odd but consistent physics engine and a great sense of humor. It was simple, buy there was a lot of depth and plenty to enjoy, including the sights and folks of coastal pseudo-California, the ever-present KFC ads, and the jaunty punk soundtrack. It nibbled away your time in happy 90-second bites, and it only got better when it evolved into The Simpsons Hit And Run.

Game: Midnight Club
Creator: Angel Studios
Release Date: 2000
Original Platform: PlayStation2

Why We Love It: The PS2's debut was a revelation, and aptly-named publisher Rockstar Games was there to capitalize with an open-world off-road free-for-all called Smuggler's Run and this free-roaming street racer. The setting was Manhattan, a semi-open world which seemed huge at the time and provided great choose-your-own-course point-to-point racing. The series continues to evolve and has become even more challenging; it may be the arcade racer with the steepest difficulty curve.

Game: Colin McRae Rally/ DiRT
Creator: Codemasters
Release Date: 2000
Original Platform: PlayStation, PC

Why We Love It: As indescribably cool as rallying is, there aren't many rally games to choose from. Therefore it's fortunate that the McRae games are very good indeed. Although they trend towards the arcadey side in later editions, all of them are fun, challenging , and smooth, and a fitting pop-culture tribute to one of the greatest drivers of all time. They're also some of the best-looking car games out there regardless of genre, and the sound must be heard to be believed; motorsport, and rallying in particular, is not a quiet activity, and this title does a better job than any other game s of bringing it home to the vicarious driver.

Game: Grand Theft Auto III-IV
Creator: Rockstar
Release Date: 2001
Original Platform: PlayStation2

Why We Love It: Okay, so it isn't purely or even primarily a car game, despite its title. Yet the driving aspects of these satirical mayhem simulators are so much evil-hearted cinematic fun that it can't be left off this list. Much thought has been put into the cars that populate GTA's hilariously mean-tempered cities, and every model is meticulously detailed and clearly inspired by some real-world counterpart. They all blow up real good, too. And the latest installment finally looks good enough to make the first-person view worth using during police chases, which adds an almost frightening level of immediacy to your inevitable brutal demise.

Game: Burnout series
Creator: Criterion
Release Date: 2002
Original Platform: PlayStation2, Xbox, GameCube

Why We Love It: The problem with many racing games, even the less realistic ones, is that one little crash can render the entire race a moot point. Burnout's genius solution was to make crashing just as important as racing, and just as skill-intensive. All the titles were fun, and though the most recent edition, Burnout Paradise, lost the bowling-for-cars Crash Mode, it added a free-roaming component that more than made up for it. One of the great Neanderthal time-wasters of the videogame world.

Game: Need for Speed Most Wanted
Creator: Electronic Arts Canada
Release Date: 2005
Original Platform: PlayStation2, Xbox

Why We Love It: The Need For Speed series has been around just about forever, but frankly not all its editions have been worthwhile. Of the many good ones, we prefer Most Wanted, because if you're going to have a glossy, unrealistic, over-the-top street racer, you should really try to outrun the cops as well. The police pursuits are the best part of this game, which is set in a world where the entire focus of the United States government is apparently dedicated to preventing you from speeding, which results in some wonderfully fun and over-the-top chases, all of them treated with deadly serious attitude. Oooh, those street racers and their pesky nitrouses!

Game: Forza Motorsport series
Creator: Forza Motorsport series
Release Date: 2005
Original Platform: Xbox

Why We Love It: While the Xbox had a very pretty and enjoyable arcade racer in Project Gotham, it badly needed a sim-based game. It got a great one in Forza, which had hundreds of cars, very deep graphic customization, extended replays, the Nürburgring Nordschleife, and damage modeling. Finally, a gorgeous, deep console racer where you couldn't just berm off other racers without consequences! Happily, the series continues to evolve in a positive direction, and we have high hopes for the debut of Forza 3 in a couple months.

Game: Test Drive Unlimited
Creator: Eden Games
Release Date: 2006
Original Platform: PC, Xbox360, PlayStation2, PSP

Why We Love It: The Test Drive series began in 1987-1987!-and like NFS, has varied widely in quality. But it's always featured exotic hardware raced in traffic on public roads, and Unlimited does that wonderfully. The developers took a map of Oahu, simplified it down to a mere thousand miles of road, and modeled it for free roaming. The MOOR system, or Massively Open Online Racing, allowed players to race against friends or just cruise with them, which was much more popular than you might think. Your customizable character was visible to other players at the car clubs, although they couldn't come hang out at your mansion and check out your ever-growing collection of undamagable exotics. There was even an in-game photography mode that allowed players to live out their buff-book fantasies. It was really an automotive lifestyle game as much as a racer, and a pretty decent piece of escapism to zone out with.

There's a lot of good games out there, and it was tough to keep this one to just twenty titles. Think we missed big? Know something we should try? Enraged at the omission of Big Rig Racing? Let us know in the comments.

(Auto News) Police: Detroit man stole woman's car on 1st date

By no1camaro

FERNDALE, Mich. (AP) - Police in Michigan say a first date went from bad to worse when a Detroit man skipped out on the restaurant bill, then stole his date's car.

Police say 23-year-old Terrance Dejuan McCoy had dinner with a woman April 24 at Buffalo Wild Wings in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale. The woman says the two met a week earlier at a Detroit casino and she knew McCoy only as "Chris."

The woman told police that McCoy said he left his wallet in her car and asked for keys. He then sped away in the 2000 Chevrolet Impala.

The Daily Tribune of Royal Oak reports that police identified McCoy by a photo he'd sent to the woman's cell phone, and his phone number.

McCoy is charged with unlawfully taking the car, a five-year felony. He waived a preliminary exam and was bound over for trial Thursday.

Ten Great Cars No One Ever Bought

By no1camaro

Bad timing, bad marketing and bad pricing have all killed a number of great cars. With a little help we've identified these ten great cars that sold like complete crap.

Some of these cars lasted only a few years before reaching their demise while others lasted as long as a decade, selling only a few models each year. Despite their lack of sales these cars still have numerous admirers.

Renault Alpine GTA
Model Run: 1984 - 1990

Reason: Lighter and quicker than a Porsche 944 with a modern design and significant use of fiberglass and polyester plastics, the Renault Alpine GTA was a true sports car. Unfortunately, the rear-engined coupe could never overcome its high price and lack of interest in the Alpine brand outside of France.

Infinit M45
Model Run: 2003 - 2005
Estimated Sales: Less Than 600 A Month

Reason: The Infiniti M45 was meant to hold the line for the company before it rolled out a series of larger, more powerful vehicles. Based on the Japanese Nissan Gloria, the sedan was actually more appealing than the larger Q45 and featured the same large 4.5-liter V8. Most complained of the styling, so it was a slow seller. We think it looks great and has aged much better than the Q.

Alfa Romeo 164
Model Run: 1989 - 1995
Estimated Sales: Less Than 6,000 Cars A Year

Reason: The Alfa Romeo 164 still remains a remarkably attractive sedan, penned by Pininfarina following the Ferrari Testarossa. It's just so Italian and, despite its FWD layout, quick and fun to drive. As with many great cars on this list, the high price made it hard to swallow at a time when the Japanese and Americans were offering similar vehicles at much lower cost -- though not quite so striking.

Buick Reatta
Model Run: 1988 - 1991
Estimated Sales: 21,751

Reason: The Reatta, though two decades old, is still one of the most fetching non-Chinese Buick products since the Eisenhower administration. It was a technological marvel, featuring a touchscreen computer and an early example of keyless entry. It was also hand built and features a high level of fit-and-finish. The price was high, as well, but this wasn't what killed it. Buick's sudden shift to an older audience meant performance concerns were thrown out the window, which robbed a great platform of a promising future. Because of this, sales were low. Still, it's a great-though-imperfect vehicle.

Merkur Scorpio/XR4Ti
Model Run: 1985 - 1989

Reason: People are constantly complaining about not getting Ford Europe products. Unfortunately, the Merkur Scorpio and the XR4Ti were as close as America got for a good long while. Though the Scorpio wasn't overwhelmingly powerful, the it performed well for its day and offered a large hatch, European style and other great features. The XR4Ti was a much better performer, but was still part of a funky German brand no one understood.

NSU ro80
Model Run: 1967 - 1977
Estimated Sales: 37,204 (over ten years)

Reason: "Rotary engine, cab forward design, 4 wheel disc brakes, semi-automatic transmission, independent suspension all in a 1967 sedan ... they should have sold millions." If only rotary engines didn't scare everyone.

Volkswagen Phaeton
Model Run: 2004 - 2006
Estimated Sales: Less Than 3,000 In The U.S.

Reason: We've spilled a lot of electronic ink on the greatness of the Phaeton. It's subtle, Teutonic aesthetic and incredible performance outweigh even the price to maintain. It does answer the question: Would someone pay Audi prices for a Bentley disguised as a Volkswagen? Not in this country.

Fourth Generation Pontiac GTO
Model Run: 2004 - 2006
Estimated Sales: 40,808

Reason: "This was the car that enthusiasts demanded GM build for years, and when they finally brought them over, few followed through with their promise to purchase. Blame it on a bland exterior or poor marketing, but for those who knew and later found out, the last GTO was a near perfect car. It was a car everyone said they wanted, but couldnt buy."

Volkswagen Corrado
Model Run: 1988 - 1996
Estimated Sales: 97,000 worldwide (lower in the U.S.)

Reason: The Volkswagen Corrado and its many iterations was one car we truly liked the general buying public didn't. Sure there's a big following, but people were not willing to fork over the cash for the platform. In various trims the Corrado could be had as an attractive hatch all the way up to the powerful-for-the-time 180 HP VR6 trim. It was quicker than a Porsche 944, handled better than your average FWD vehicle, and looked incredibly German. It was quirky, fun, had a hatch and was therefore mostly unloved enough to get canned. it did so poorly they'll probably never bring the Scirocco over here.

The Tucker Sedan
Estimated Sales: 37

Reason: The Tucker Sedan, with its exceptionally forward-thinking safety equipment and sporty design, was so good the not-so-Big Three sabotaged the company's efforts. Even if they hadn't, there was so much bad luck and bad press in the creation of the car that the car was Dead on Arrival. Had you purchased one of the few operational cars you'd now be sitting on a vehicle worth almost a $1 million.

Ten Things Your Kids Will Never Experience In A New Car

By no1camaro

Cars are a part of American culture. We grow up in them, live in them, love them, but like the culture they reflect, cars change over time. Here's ten things you experienced your kids probably won't.

Vent Windows
Air conditioning, to the city-dweller, is often the line separating a rugged existence from a civilized one. In the past, what you had instead was the vent window, a magnificent triangular piece of glass in the front door windows which rotated to funnel air into the cabin and cool the occupants. Crossing large expanses at high speeds means lots of fresh air, but as we transitioned to an urban population, those high speeds were replaced by sweltering traffic and air conditioning has completely replaced the vent window.

Crank Windows
Nearly everyone reading this post probably grew up with a car featuring crank windows. They're cheap, they're reliable, they're light weight and they make you exercise to get at that sweet, sweet fresh air. All reasons they're being naturally selected out of the automotive gene pool. It doesn't help that even on the most beautiful days, everyone stays bottled up with their air conditioning humming.

The idea of a key to operate your car was first implemented by Cadillac, since their cars featured the Charles Kettering starter, making ignition so easy anyone could steal your car. As time progressed thieves upped the ante with master keys or bypassed the key entirely by hotwiring. Since computer technology and the commonization of keyless entry have advanced, the metal key finds itself succumbing to the digital one. These days its common to find cars with a short-range radio frequency transmitter in the key fob and a push-button starter. They still come with emergency metal keys, but its only a matter of time before those disappear.

Vinyl Seats
If you're old enough, the searing pain of hot vinyl bench seats turning your thigh into a roast is one of your earliest car memories. You learned quick to sit on your shorts and ease down on the bench, otherwise those vinyl covers, hot as the surface of the sun which baked them, would inevitably bake stitch marks into you. Unsurprisingly, as material costs dropped and buyers decided not to maim their children, vinyl seat options are becoming scarce. Believe it or not, they can still be had on the ultra-base Toyota Prius.

Manual Transfer Cases
Driving off-road used to be a test of manliness. You had to know things; what a low range meant, how to roll a truck back and forth to get the manual lockers to engage, and most importantly, you had to be a master of the secret handshake of the non-synchro transfer case. Electronic, on the fly, fully synchronized and push-button transfer cases have made the second shifter next to the gear selector an anachronism. It will survive with the rock crawlers, but it'll never see the light of production again.

Jump Seats
When the man killed the folding jump seats in the Land Rover Discovery, a little piece of us all died. How many grew up facing the back of a Country Squire watching the world evaporate behind them at a Federally mandated double nickel? Oh sure, we're all technically "safer" without the jump seat, but are we happier? Probably not.

Being Lost
Used to be if you wanted to get anywhere, you had a Rand McNally road atlas and your sense of direction. It required spatial awareness, planning, paying attention to the road signs and at times a little luck. Now Navigation systems are becoming standard equipment on even the most basic models. In a few years, it'll be hard to avoid finding a Navi in any decent used car you look at. Discounting preinstalled Nav, portable units are crossing the magical $100 barrier, making them accessible to the unwashed masses. There will always be hold-outs clinging to their old-timey maps, but your kids won't be among them.

Cigarette Lighters
As goes the smoker, so goes the cigarette lighter. We're not fans of smoking in cars, it inevitably leads to burns in the upholstery, but having a readily available fire source in your car seems useful. If nothing else cigarette lighters provide hours of entertainment to danger loving pre-teen boys. And who will ever forget cleaning out the disgusting and too-small chewing gum repository they become for non-smoking families. On a wider note though, lighters, and they're counterparts ash trays, are some of the last remaining automotive artifacts left over from the greatest generation. When lighters disappear completely, something elegant and confident will die out too.

Hanging Your Arm Out The Window
Possibly the most insidious on the list, it's one of the greatest pleasures in a car nut's life; To hang your arm out the window on a cool summer night, cruising down the main drag, your significant other at your side, a mellow tune belting out on the radio and from under the hood. There's no greater bliss for any automotive aficionado. Much like with window vents, this past time faces an end from the evils of air conditioning, but it also will die out as a result of government regulation in the form of ever-more-stringent side impact requirements forcing windows and beltlines higher and higher. As it stands there are few cars on the market today you can hang an arm out of without significant discomfort, and we'll be very sad when there are none. In fact, in our recent Muscle Car Wars showdown, the only member of the threesome we could comfortable accomplish this in was the Mustang. Camaro? Challenger? Fail.

The Danger Of Death
To date, we've seen cars with two front air bags, knee bags, thorax bags, side curtain airbags, rear thorax bags and a center rear airbag. Cars have adaptive cruise control, can brake to a stop automatically, detect blind spot danger, protect pedestrians from a frontal impact, pretension your seat belt, brace your neck in a rear collision, and automatically apply brake force to avoid a rollover. At some point, barring egregious stupidity, cars will become essentially death proof. So much for fear as a motivator for responsibility.

(Auto News) Chevrolet announces the 2010 Camaro TRANSFORMERS Special Edition

By no1camaro

Chevrolet announces the 2010 Camaro TRANSFORMERS Special Edition

DETROIT - Fans of the new Camaro and the blockbuster TRANSFORMERS movies can now combine their love of the car and the films with the Chevrolet Camaro TRANSFORMERS Special Edition announced today at Comic-Con in San Diego.

"When the first TRANSFORMERS movie was setting box office records, we had countless customers asking to purchase the 'BUMBLEBEE' Camaro," said Karen Rafferty, product marketing director, Chevrolet. "Now, they can buy one with the new Camaro TRANSFORMERS Special Edition. Streets all over North America will be buzzing in no time."

Features such as an EPA-rated 29 highway mpg on the V6-powered Camaro, Bluetooth phone connectivity, USB connectivity, XM Satellite Radio and OnStar combined with TRANSFORMERS design cues add to the car's status as a 21st century sports car.

"Hasbro is thrilled to team up with Chevrolet and excited to see the Camaro TRANSFORMERS Special Edition come to market for our fans to enjoy," said Samantha Lomow, Global Brand Leader for TRANSFORMERS at Hasbro. "The yellow Camaro with the black stripes has become so iconic and closely associated with the BUMBLEBEE character that this edition was a natural fit for both companies."

While the aggressive styling of the Camaro is unmistakable, true TRANSFORMERS fans will notice some of the unique, but subtle features of the Camaro TRANSFORMERS Special Edition.

The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro TRANSFORMERS Special Edition includes the following:

* AUTOBOT® shield on the driver and passenger side panels
* AUTOBOT® shield on each of the four wheel's center cap
* AUTOBOT® shield embroidered on interior center console
* "TRANSFORMERS" logo on driver and passenger doors' sill plates
* "TRANSFORMERS" logo embedded into the hood rally stripes
* High-gloss black center rally stripe package
* Manufacturer's suggested retail price of package: $995

Dealers are now taking orders for this car. Customers can order the TRANSFORMERS Special Edition as either a Rally Yellow LT or SS model. The optional RS appearance package can also be added.

(Auto News) In The Camaro, A Glimmer Of Hope For GM

By no1camaro

In The Camaro, A Glimmer Of Hope For GM
by Frank Langfitt


Frank Langfitt/NPR
Greg Smith of Annapolis, Md., has fond childhood memories of barreling across the Arizona desert in a Camaro. He is one of the early buyers snapping up the newly redesigned Camaro.

Morning Edition, July 21, 2009 · "Excitement" is not a word people have associated with General Motors cars in recent years. But the company now has a new model that's actually generating some buzz — the redesigned Camaro.

The sleek, two-door coupe looks like a cross between a '60s muscle car and a spaceship. And even in a terrible economy, dealers have sold more than 15,000 in its first several months on the market.

Living Out Childhood Dreams

Some of Greg Smith's fondest memories were in a Camaro. He recalls being 13 years old, with his friend's older brother at the wheel, barreling across the desert outside Tucson at 100 miles per hour.

"There was nothing like leaving your seat when you go over a little rise. Even though you have your seat belt on, you still get a little air," Smith says. "You kind of feel like you're in another world."

Buying a Camaro was never practical, but Smith, who is now 53 and designs commercial signs for a living, couldn't resist; he ordered a Camaro in February and picked it up last week in Maryland.

His new car is jet black; creased metal rises over the back wheels like big shoulders. Its headlights, shaped like sunglasses, stare out from the long hood.

"I love the way it looks; it's all angles," he says. "It has almost a Battlestar Galactica, Darth Vader look to the grill in the front. There aren't going to be any cars out there that look like this car for a long time."

Early Success Raises Hopes

This has been a dreadful year for GM, one that has included a forced bankruptcy and tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout money.

Now, the company hopes the new Camaro can inspire customers like Smith and help bring some flash to a battered brand.

Dealers say the push is working — demand for the new Camaro is heavy.

"I wish I had a thousand to sell tomorrow, because I could sell them," said Neil Kopit, who handles marketing at Criswell Chevrolet in Gaithersburg, Md.

GM says it has 13,000 on back order, which sounds great, but Lonnie Miller, who works for the auto marketing firm R.L. Polk, says the shortage is by design.

"They limit production in order to keep demand high, so the dealers sell out of available stock," says Miller. "You don't want to flood the market with this and make it a commodity car."

GM is marketing the Camaro in a number of ways. One strategy is product placement: The Camaro starred in both the original Transformers movie and the sequel released earlier this summer.

GM crafted an ad using a scene from the first Transformers in which the star, Shia Labeouf, asks another character: "Fifty years from now, when you're looking back at your life, don't you want to say you had the guts to get in the car?"

A Newer, Greener Image

Of course, pitching the Camaro to young, male moviegoers is easy. But how do you push it against the tide of environmentalism and concern over fuel prices?

GM is tackling this issue in part by avoiding the Camaro's long-held image as a muscle car. Instead, the company is marketing it as a "21st century sports car," says Karen Rafferty, who markets performance cars at GM.

Scott Oldham, who edits Edmunds' Inside Line, a consumer Web site for car lovers, says given the political climate, GM has to try to cast the Camaro in a greener light.

"The guys in Washington that are writing the checks these days, they've been on record saying GM and American automakers don't necessarily need to be making muscle cars, gas guzzlers. And they don't think the American public should be driving them either," Oldham says.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the six-cylinder Camaro gets 29 mpg on the highway.

Despite the new model's early success, Oldham says the Camaro alone can't save GM. It's a niche vehicle with a limited base of buyers.

"If they sell 75,000, they'll chalk that up as a big year," he says.

Stirring Excitement In Tough Times

The Camaro is what Detroit calls a "halo car" — ideally, a flashy, hit vehicle that bathes the brand in a warm glow.

Last year, Chrysler launched a "halo" sports car in the new Dodge Challenger. Ford did the same this spring with a redesigned Mustang. Oldham says halo cars not only grab attention, but also lift worker morale during a tough time in the auto industry.

"I think they motivate the employees of the company," he says. "You know, not everyone got into the car business to sell boring sedans to boring people."

And not everyone wants to own a boring car. Take Lee Fleishman. He's 25 and manages his family's bagel store in Bethesda, Md. A couple of months ago, Fleishman bought the V8 Camaro — with a 426-horsepower engine.

"As soon as I got it, my wife said she didn't really believe me that people were really responding to it," Fleishman said. "About two seconds later, a Porsche 911 Turbo comes flying out of nowhere, yelling at me to slow down so he can take a picture."

Measuring the Camaro's success won't be easy, especially since GM won't make its sales target public. But as Fleishman's story shows, the Camaro is doing something most GM cars haven't done in a while: turn heads.

Great Road Trip Movies

By no1camaro


Whether you're a parent or a kid, this is probably the way you really remember the family road trip: as a Sisyphean obstacle course and endurance test, with one disappointment after another. Of course, when it happens to someone else's family, it's epic-scale funny.


Get outta Burt Reynolds' way. Burt in his Trans-Am and Jerry Reed in his semi have just a few hours to make the Texarkana-Florida run, and they've got illegal beer to deliver. The quintessential chase movie of Burt's career, and therefore, of the whole 1970s.

3) THE SURE THING (1985)

Gen X's own It Happened One Night, with college students John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga in the Gable and Colbert roles, finding themselves improvising their way across the country. Hey, you'd do whatever it takes not to be trapped in a car with Tim Robbins singing show tunes.


The title says it all, as mismatched travelers Steve Martin and John Candy use every means available to get home for Thanksgiving. Anyone whose road trip ever involved a rental car will appreciate Martin's rant at the leasing agency.

5) EASY RIDER (1969)

Captain America (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) mount their choppers to go looking for America but, as the movie's ad tagline noted, couldn't find it anywhere. Instead, in the definitive motorcycle movie, they find alternative communities of overlooked Americans, a wild and wacky Jack Nicholson (in his star-making role), and the dark heart of anti-countercultural backlash.

6) ROAD TRIP (2000)

Not so much a raunchy college romp as an homage to the raunchy college romps of the early '80s (a formula the filmmakers would perfect with Old School), this trek at least has the virtue of inclusiveness. There aren't any freaks or perverts or losers on this ride, just a mismatched set of misfits who all deserve their own shot at pleasure and happiness, however their boats happen to float. (Exhibit A: Tom Green.)

7) DEATH RACE 2000 (1975)

Yes, this movie was remade into a sleek action extravaganza last year, but you have to love the original, pulpy, low-tech version, about a futuristic cross-country demo derby whose drivers get extra points for mowing down pedestrians. The late David Carradine is typically grim as the champ Frankenstein, while the then-unknown Sylvester Stallone is lean and hungry as his challenger.


The most existential of all the existential road movies of its era (Easy Rider, Vanishing Point, Five Easy Pieces, Electra Glide in Blue), this laconic tale of two nameless drag racers stars James Taylor (yes, that James Taylor) and Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, who compete against Warren Oates for girls, car titles, and glory. The real-life Cannonball Run race was inspired by this movie.


In David Lynch's gentlest movie, a dying WWII veteran (the majestic Richard Farnsworth) is so determined to make peace with his estranged brother that he travels to see him across state lines on a riding lawnmower.


It's the young Che Guevara (Gael García Bernal) and his friend Alberto Granado (Argentine actor Rodrigo de la Serna, a real-life relative of Che's) doing the Easy Rider thing across South America, on the journey whose encounters with the downtrodden radicalized Che and helped make him the Communist poster boy he still is today.

11) BADLANDS (1973)

Inspired by the Charles Starkweather case and starring an impossibly young Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, Terrence Malick's first film is a dreamy, strangely beautiful meditation on the twin American loves of the open road and senseless violence.


Nominated for Best Picture, this dysfunctional-family-on-the-road comedy — starring Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, Abigail Breslin, Toni Collette, and Paul Dano — plays out like the indie version of National Lampoon's Vacation.


Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, and Farrah Fawcett lead the pack in this all-star cross-country underground race. Chaotic comedy ensues. Screenwriter Brock Yates founded the real-life Cannonball race, inspired in turn by a movie: Two-Lane Blacktop.

14) Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN (2001)

Future Motorcycle Diarist Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna travel across Mexico seeking adventure, sex, and wisdom, only dimly aware that all three are accompanying them in the mysterious form of slightly older woman Maribel Verdú.

15) THELMA & LOUISE (1991)

Road trips aren't just for guys. All in all, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon had a pretty fun time. Except for the whole roadhouse parking lot incident. Oh, and the road trip's last few feet.

16) MIDNIGHT RUN (1988)

Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin compete to see who can do the funnier slow burn as annoyed bounty hunter De Niro drags annoying Mob accountant Grodin across the country, with rival bounty hunters and mobsters in hot pursuit.

17) PAPER MOON (1973)

Smooth con man Ryan O'Neal and even smoother con moppet Tatum O'Neal (in her Oscar-winning role) travel across the Depression-era Dust Bowl, scamming the gullible and each other along the way.

18) SIDEWAYS (2004)

Spend a hilariously uncomfortable week touring California whine country — er, wine country — with a painfully self-absorbed guy who's not quite ready to get married (Thomas Haden Church) and a painfully self-conscious guy who's not quite ready to accept his divorce (Paul Giamatti). Just remember, don't drink and drive; spit first.

19) THE WAGES OF FEAR (1953)

Leave it to the French to turn the road trip genre into an exercise in existential dread — a nail-biting one along bumpy mountain roads in a truck carrying a cargo of nitroglycerine.

20) LOST IN AMERICA (1985)

When you flee the corporate world, sell all your assets, buy a mobile home, and take your nest egg along with you on your journey to find the heart of America, it's probably a good idea not to stop at a Vegas casino along the way.

21) THE LUCKY ONES (2008)

Three soldiers back from Iraq (Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins, and Michael Peña) bond during a road trip across the United States.


Like Lolita (and not just in a creepy way), this story of a lad's search for his stolen bicycle is really a celebration of kitschy roadside Americana, from biker bars to tourist traps, from drive-in movie theaters to giant, hollow fiberglass dinosaurs.

(Auto News) Traffic Barrel Monster Creator Arrested!!

By no1camaro

Traffic Barrel Monster Creator Arrested

NC State student Joseph Carnevale, the artist behind the Traffic Barrel Monster, has been arrested for stealing the barrels and "cutting and screwing them together to make a statue," which apparently is a misdemeanor in North Carolina.

Carnevale goes by the name "uliveuburn" and has been a fixture in the Raleigh-area street art scene for a while, notable for his creation of the Boylan Bridge Angry Man. Given the similar theme and creativity it didn't take the local police long to decide the 21-year-old is to blame. The total cost of the damage has been estimated at $360 and a court case is scheduled for July 21st.

(Auto News) Traffic Barrel Monster Will Eat You And Your Car

By no1camaro

Be on the lookout for this KILLER!

(Auto News) Carbon Motors E7: NYPD Cool

By no1camaro

Sitting in the Carbon Motors E7, you realize it's the product of police officers dreaming up the ideal vehicle for law enforcement. This dream's coming to a radar trap near you in 2012.

Built on a purpose-built chassis and using a 300 HP, 420 Lb-Ft of torque forced-induction diesel, the 4,000 Lb E7 will run 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, top out at 155 MPH and return 28-30 MPG in normal use. More importantly, it's designed to a 250,000-mile durability spec. Faster, more economical and longer lasting than current cop cars, but it's what inside that really counts; the E7 has been designed around the police officers specific needs.

Current cruisers, modified versions of civilian cars, are far from ideal for police use. The necessary additions — radios, computers, donut holders — often get added with little to no thought or testing to how they'll perform in a crash, often becoming lethal projectiles in an impact. Seats aren't built for 8-hour-long shift, controls aren't created with control in mind, communications and computer equipment gets spec'd for cost, not capability.

The E7 integrates all its features neatly into a cohesive package. Check out the faired-in lights all over the bodywork — better for aerodynamics. The seats are made to support large and in-charge cops and accommodate utility belts full of cuffs, batons and handguns. Heated and cooled cup holders complement the A/C fans incorporated in the headrests for year-round comfort. All computing and communications take place through the huge dash-mounted touch screen while gadgets like radar speed detectors, 360° surveillance cams and automatic license plate recognition cameras abound. It even has biohazard and weapons of mass destruction detectors integrated in neat trunk-mounted NACA ducts.

There are over 425,000 law enforcement vehicles in service in the U.S. Carbon Motors hopes to take that market by storm, offering a vehicle that easily exceeds current vehicles' fuel economy, utility and safety - over 50% of officer injuries take place in their vehicles. Carbon Motors hopes to bring the E7 in around the same price as a fully equipped version of current cruisers. Judging by the reaction local cops had when they saw the E7 yesterday, there's going to be a lot of eager customers.

While we may have gotten an exclusive "Big Apple" first-hand look yesterday evening, you can see it for yourself today from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM in Times Square near the NASDAQ market site where the folks from Carbon Motors will ring the opening bell.

(Auto News) Busted! 6 speeders blow past trooper in exotic cars

By no1camaro

GRAND RONDE, Ore. - The drivers of six exotic sports cars were busted - all at one time - for speed racing Thursday along a two-lane highway in Oregon's Coastal Range.
An Oregon State Police trooper pulled the drivers over after he spotted the cars racing at high speeds along Highway 18 near Grand Ronde.

About two hours later, one of the same vehicles was again stopped again by a trooper in the Columbia River Gorge for a high-speed violation.

Senior Trooper David Peterson began watching for the speeding vehicles at about 11:15 a.m. after receiving a dispatch from the Oregon State Police's Northern Command Center.

The center reported about 10 exotic-style cars - including Ferraris, a Lamborghini and others - passing in no-pass zones and traveling at high speed on the highway, which connects Lincoln City on the coast with the Willamette Valley.

Trooper Peterson pulled off the highway and observed five of the vehicles scream past at a high rate of speed. As he accelerated onto Highway 18, a sixth vehicle blew the past patrol car at high speed.

The trooper stopped all six vehicles and cited the drivers for speed racing. The drivers were cooperative and told the trooper there was a total of 20 similar vehicles traveling together on an annual road trip.

One of the stopped drivers was from Washington state and the other drivers were from Canada.

More than two hours later one of the same vehicles, a 2004 Lamborghini with Alberta license plate "BADBUL," was stopped about 1:45 p.m. on Interstate 84 eastbound near Multnomah Falls by Oregon State Police Sgt. Tom Worthy, for doing 90 mph in a 65-mph zone.

(Auto News) Police say mom ordered daughters out, drove off

By no1camaro

Police say mom ordered daughters out, drove off

This April 20, 2009 photo provided by the White Plains Police Department shows Madlyn Primoff of Scarsdale, N.Y. Authorities say Primoff, who was fed up with her children's fighting, kicked them out of the car in downtown White Plains and drove away on Sunday, April 19, 2009.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Usually, it's an empty threat: "If you kids don't stop fighting, I'm going to stop this car right now and leave you here!" But a mother from an upper-crust New York suburb went through with it, ordering her battling 10- and 12-year-old daughters out of her car in White Plains' business district and driving off, police said Tuesday.

Madlyn Primoff, 45, a partner in a Manhattan law firm, pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of endangering a child. A temporary order of protection was issued, barring her from contact with the children, who were physically unharmed.

Primoff's lawyer, Vincent Briccetti, would not comment Tuesday on details of the case. But he said, "Madlyn is a great mother connected with a great family, and she is grateful for the outpouring of support from friends and family."

There wasn't much support from strangers, however. Mothers interviewed near the scene said they couldn't imagine doing what Primoff did, though some understood the urge.

Iris Gorodess, 49, of Mahopac, who has four children ranging from 10 to 19 years old, said she sympathized with Primoff's actions, right up to the point where she pulled away.

"I used to pull over and make the kids change seats. Also, I make sure the kids have their iPods and their games. And I have a minivan, so they're not up my neck all the time.

"But I can't see pulling away. That has to be too scary for the children."

White Plains police said Primoff ordered the arguing girls out of the car Sunday evening as they were driving home. She left them at Post Road and South Broadway, an area of shops and offices 3 miles from their home, then drove off, the police report said.

The report does not say whether the girls had cell phones.

Police would not say if Primoff ever returned to look for the girls, but they said, without explaining how, that the 12-year-old eventually caught up with the mother. The 10-year-old was found by a "Good Samaritan" on the street, upset and emotional about losing her mother, police said.

The girl gave police her mother's name and their address in well-to-do Scarsdale, and they asked Scarsdale police to check Primoff's $2 million house. Shortly afterward, Primoff called Scarsdale police from home to say the 10-year-old was missing, said Scarsdale Detective Lt. Bryant Clark.

He directed her to White Plains police headquarters, where she was arrested.

Dr. Richard Gersh, director of psychiatric services at the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services in Manhattan, said Primoff's behavior was not appropriate.

"It is a traumatic situation for a child to be abandoned by a parent like that. You can imagine what emotional issues might arise," he said.

(Auto News) 4 injured as drunk drivers collide in Wisconsin

By no1camaro

RACINE, Wis. (AP) - Police in Wisconsin say four people were injured after a drunk driver hit another drunk driver in Racine.

Police say one drunk driver was traveling at a high rate of speed on Main Street when he missed a turn and went the wrong way on another street around 2:40 a.m Saturday. He hit two parked cars, rolled over and hit an oncoming car driven by another drunk driver.

Lt. Mike Polzin says none of injuries are considered life threatening.

He says a 27-year-old Pleasant Prairie man was cited for causing injury by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle and a 35-year-old Racine man was cited for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

(Auto News) Man accidentally shoots himself at drive-through

By no1camaro

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A stop at a fast-food restaurant's drive-through on Tuesday afternoon led to a trip to the hospital after a man accidentally shot himself in the leg with a pistol.

The 24-year-old man was apparently trying to clear the weapon when it went off and hit him in the calf.

Police said the man didn't need a permit because the gun wasn't concealed, so he didn't break any laws.

His name was not released.

(Auto News) Woman's tofu license plate curdles in Colo.

By no1camaro

Woman's tofu license plate curdles in Colo.

DENVER - One Colorado woman's love for tofu has been judged X-rated by state officials. Kelly Coffman-Lee wanted to tell the world about her fondness for bean curd by picking certain letters for her SUV's license plate. Her suggestion for the plate: "ILVTOFU." But the Division of Motor Vehicles blocked her plan because they thought the combination of letters could be interpreted as profane.

Says Department of Revenue spokesman Mark Couch: "We don't allow 'FU' because some people could read that as street language for sex."

Officials meet periodically to ensure state plates stay free of letters that abbreviate gang slang, drug terms or obscene phrases.

The 38-year-old Coffman-Lee says tofu is a staple of her family's diet because they are vegan and that the DMV misinterpreted her message.

(Auto News) Oops! Employee flips, damages borrowed Ferrari

By no1camaro

Oops! Employee flips, damages borrowed Ferrari

BOULDER CREEK, Calif. - The California Highway Patrol said a 23-year-old woman driving an expensive Ferrari owned by her boss flipped it after taking a curve too fast, causing an estimated $125,000 in damage. CHP Officer Elizabeth Addy said the woman escaped the crash Saturday without injury, but her boss was irate.

The unidentified woman apparently lost control after taking a curve at too high a speed, hit an embankment and flipped.

Addy said the woman was driving the car with the owner's consent.

The CHP said alcohol was not a factor.

(Auto News) English villagers send Google maps car packing

By no1camaro

LONDON (AP) - You're never far from a camera in Britain, a country that has accepted the presence of millions of surveillance cameras in its streets, shopping centers and public spaces.

But for the villagers of Broughton in southern England, the roving eye of Google was one camera too far.

A gaggle of residents in the affluent hamlet formed a human chain to turn away a car shooting images for Google Street View, the popular service that allows Internet users to see high-quality photos of houses and streets around the world.

Broughton's tiny victory for people power is the latest sign of concern about the U.S. Internet juggernaut's collection of vast amounts of data, from satellite photos on Google Earth to the searches performed by Internet users and the shopping habits of e-mail users.

"I was upstairs when I spotted the camera car driving down the lane," villager Paul Jacobs told The Times of London newspaper. "My immediate reaction was anger: How dare anyone take a photograph of my home without my consent?"

Jacobs quickly rounded up his neighbors, who blocked the road and forced the car to retreat.

The local police force confirmed it had been called to the village Wednesday by "reports of a dispute between a crowd of people and a Google Street View contractor."

"They felt his presence was an intrusion of their privacy," Thames Valley Police said in a statement sent Friday to The Associated Press. "When police arrived at the scene, the car had moved on."

Street View debuted in the United States in 2007 and has since spread to countries including France, Italy, Spain, Australia and Japan. It launched in Britain last month, sparking a debate about freedom of information and the right to privacy.

Street View has sparked concern elsewhere as well. In the United States, Google removed images of shelters for battered women.

In the Netherlands, concerns have been raised about the safety of anyone trying to photograph Amsterdam's notorious Red Light district. So far, Google's images stop just outside the district.

In Italy, consumer groups have raised a variety of concerns and asked Google to put visual and sound warnings on the cars that take its Street View pictures.

"People feel sensitive about their local area, about their home, and digitization in great detail of those images threatens a great many people," said Simon Davies of London-based watchdog Privacy International.

For months, Google's Street View vehicle - a car with a pole-mounted revolving camera protruding from the top - has been roaming the streets of Britain, capturing 360-degree images of streets, and the people on them.

Since the service launched, millions of Britons have gone online to look at their own houses or landmarks like the Houses of Parliament. But some government buildings and the area around the prime minister's Downing Street home have been removed.

Google says the technology is legal, useful and non-intrusive. To preserve privacy, individuals' faces and car license plates are obscured by pixelation.

"All the information on Street View is the same as you would find on a property Web site or walking down the street yourself," said Google spokesman Anthony House.

But, he added, "it's a new technology and so I think it is understandable that people will be unhappy with it."

House said Google would remove any image on request, which can be done by clicking a link on the Street View Web site.

Google's British communications chief, Peter Barron, told the BBC that the company had received "a few hundred" such requests.

Pictures that have been taken down - after they were widely run in the press - include one of a man walking out of a sex shop and another of a worse-for-wear reveler throwing up on the sidewalk outside a London pub.

Apart from privacy concerns, some worry that Street View helps criminals scope out targets for burglary or car theft.

In Germany, officials in the northern town of Molfsee vowed last year to stop Google from photographing anywhere in town. Conservative council leader Reinhold Harwart was quoted in the local newspaper as saying letting in Street View would be "opening house and home to criminals."

That was also a worry for Broughton's villagers, concerned that burglars would target their large, comfortable houses.

A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police said there was "no evidence to suggest Google Street View is causing an increase in burglaries."

"However," she said, "we want to reassure residents we will be keeping a close eye on this."

Just what the villagers asked for: more surveillance.

(Auto News) Ya want fries with that?

By no1camaro

Man fires at McDonald's window over breakfast menu

SALT LAKE CITY - Police said a customer fired one or two shots into a Salt Lake City McDonald's after the driver of the car he was in was told the restaurant was not serving lunch yet. Police said the female driver of a white Dodge Intrepid pulled up to the drive-thru and ordered from the lunch menu early Sunday but was told only breakfast was available.

Police said two men then got out of the car and one pulled a sawed-off shotgun from the trunk, shooting into the drive-thru window once or twice, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Monday. No one was injured.

The car then left the scene.

(Auto News) Ticket's in the mail: Red-light cameras questioned

By no1camaro

CLIVE, Iowa - Minutes after Neel Manglik illegally turned right on a red light in the Des Moines suburb of Clive, a video popped up on a computer at an office park outside Scottsdale, Ariz.

The $75 citation arrived in the mail weeks later, making Manglik one of the millions of Americans ticketed as part of a growing industry that is making handsome profits for companies that operate video cameras at busy intersections throughout the nation.

As more cities sign up and others invest their profits into more cameras, those companies expect increased revenue for years to come.

What's less clear is whether the cameras improve safety. While studies show fewer T-bone crashes at lights with cameras and fewer drivers running red lights, the number of rear-end crashes increases.

Aaron Quinn, spokesman for the Wisconsin-based National Motorists Association, said there are cheaper safety alternatives to red-light cameras, including lengthening yellow-light times.

"We say, the red-light camera wouldn't have stopped anyone from getting hit," Quinn said. "Once (a city) sees one city getting it miles away, and that first city makes a bunch of money, they want to do it, too. It's like a virus."

Albany, Ore., population 48,000, issued 1,119 traffic camera tickets for $77,200 in 2008. By comparison, in 2006 only 4,000 tickets were issued for all traffic infractions.

In St. Peters, Mo., a city of 55,000, red-light cameras resulted in 3,203 tickets issued from January 2007 to September 2008, and drew a total of $235,973. The city issued 14,836 traffic tickets in fiscal year 2006, but that jumped to 21,745 in 2008, the first full fiscal year with the cameras.

Clive Police Chief Robert Cox said there's no doubt the cameras are a cheaper option than having an officer on the street.

"With the number of calls for service our city generates, we can't devote that much time to red-light enforcement," Cox said. "We were missing a lot of violations."

But not all cities make money off of the tickets. Contracts between companies and cities can affect how much money the cities get.

In Clive, for instance, the red-light camera program generated $39,548.65 between July 2006 and March 2007, but all of that money went to the camera company because Clive didn't ticket enough drivers in any single month to make money. Clive has since changed its contract and now gets a percentage of each ticket.

The largest red-light camera company, Redflex Traffic Systems of Scottsdale, operates red-light or speed cameras in 22 states, and added 79 cities last year. It signed a $32 million maintenance contract with Chicago last fall, and in just the last three weeks of last year, Redflex added five new cities.

Redflex saw net, after-tax profits of $10.6 million in fiscal year 2008, up from $7.3 million the year before.

That ticket in Clive shows why: More than half of the $75 fine went to Redflex.

"That's ridiculous," said Ashok Manglik, a physician who paid his wife's ticket. "Why should it go to the camera company? At least 90 percent should go to the city."

Some cities, such as Orlando and Atlanta, put all the money back into the program so they don't profit from issuing tickets.

"It was a concern," said Mike Rhodes, manager of the Orlando's Code Enforcement Division. "Without casting aspersions on vendors, we didn't want to be seen as having any incentive to issue these tickets."

Plenty of people have been getting tickets in Orlando.

The city issued 785 "failure to obey a traffic signal" tickets — their equivalent of a red-light violation — between Sept. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2007. But after the cameras were installed in September 2008, Orlando issued 8,250 tickets through its red-light camera program during that four-month period.

The Clive ticket demonstrates how the system works:

A Redflex camera spotted the violation by Manglik, then sent a video to an employee in Arizona who trained for a week to recognize violations. The employee checked municipal laws and approved the initial violation, and the video was then passed to another Redflex worker, who checked the vehicle against a motor-vehicle database to see if the car and tags match. A third employee approved the final evaluation and alerted an officer in Clive, who made the ticket official.

Clive police approve more than 90 percent of violations passed on by Redflex, excluding obvious mistakes such as ambulances and funeral processions. Redflex encourages cities to use signs and provides them to its customers.

"There's very few rejected because it's reviewed three or four times by Redflex," Clive police Lt. Gary Walker said.

The camera companies, participating cities and nonprofit Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, a group funded by auto insurers, argue that the cameras save lives and ultimately cut costs. They estimate the cameras save about $14 billion annually, largely by reducing emergency-room trips, lowering insurance rates and cutting medical bills.

"I say if you sell fire extinguishers or smoke detectors or bulletproof vests that save police officers' lives and you can make a buck off this, God bless you," said Richard A. Retting, a former senior transportation engineer and lead researcher who left the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety in September. "How communities work out the details of those finances is up to them."

A 2005 study by the Federal Highway Safety Administration found that after installation of red-light cameras, right-angle or T-bone crashes dropped 28 percent, while rear-end crashes climbed 8 percent.

The researchers found that with property damage included, each site saw a $40,000 per year drop in damage.

Retting said there's no debate that the cameras cut down on red-light running but that their effect on crash severity is less certain.

In Clive, one of the cameras was responsible for giving Richard Tarlton his first ticket in more than 60 years of driving. But the 76-year-old said that as long as the cameras help police become more efficient, he's all for it.

"If the policemen use their time and do police work, that's great," Tarlton said. "If it's giving them an extra doughnut and coffee break, then I'm not for it."

(Auto News) Fight in car over $3 leads to fish tank attack

By no1camaro

PORT RICHEY, Fla. (AP) — Authorities said a fight in a car over $3 in gas money led to one passenger hitting another with a fish tank and then a beer bottle. The sheriff's office reported that an 18-year-old driver and 30-year-old passenger picked up their 26-year-old friend from a strip club on Monday night. When the driver asked for gas money, the man who had been picked up from the strip club refused to pay.

A fight between the three friends quickly escalated, and authorities said the 26-year-old man grabbed a fish tank from the back seat and began hitting the passenger. The passenger then managed to wrestle a beer bottle away and break it over the 26-year-old's head.

The driver eventually pulled over and called deputies. Both men were charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. They were being held on $10,000 bail.

(Auto News) Now who's the BIGGER Dummy, Dummy!

By no1camaro

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- It's a question that might have been worth asking: Who's the bigger dummy?

A Camano Island man is out $124 after State Patrol troopers caught him driving in the HOV lane with just himself -- and a homemade dummy in the passenger seat.

The man was pulled over on I-405 Wednesday afternoon when the trooper noticed his "passenger" was amazingly still and not wearing a seat belt. Sure enough, when the trooper approached the window, he saw it was instead a realistic homemade dummy.

The trooper asked the driver how long he had been driving with the dummy in his passenger seat, and the man said it was just a few days.

He said he lives on Camano Island and couldn't tolerate sitting in traffic any longer.

He was given a $124 ticket for a carpool violation.

(Auto News) Triple-digit speeder: The eBay auction was closing!

By no1camaro

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. -- We're sure State Patrol troopers get a lot of excuses for speeding, but "I'm hurrying home to bid on an eBay auction"?

That was apparently the reason a 46-year-old Fall City man was going over 100 mph on the I-90 floating bridge Monday evening.

It was around 9:20 p.m. when a trooper saw James Garrett's VW R-32 going at a very high rate of speed while passing other drivers in the eastbound express lanes of I-90 in the Mount Baker Tunnel, according to Trooper Dan McDonald with the Washington State Patrol.

The trooper was able to clock Garrett at 100 mph, and then got a second reading of 110 mph as he chased after him, McDonald said.

The driver then exited the freeway at Mercer Island and pulled over. After he was arrested, Garrett told the trooper he was late placing a bid on eBay, McDonald said.

Garrett was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of reckless driving, and his car was impounded. McDonald said Garret has several criminal convictions for driving-related offenses.

No word yet on what he was trying to bid on.

(Auto News) Man asks for 'please,' gets pepper-sprayed at Blaine border

By no1camaro

BLAINE, Wash. (AP) - A Canadian says he got a face full of pepper spray after repeatedly asking a U.S. border inspector in Blaine, Wash., to say please.

Desiderio Fortunato says he thought the inspector who told him to turn off his engine Monday was rude and asked him to say please.

The 54-year-old British Columbia resident told The Bellingham Herald that the inspector repeatedly ordered him to turn the car off and then said he would spray him if he didn't.

Fortunato says he was stunned and blinded by the pepper spray and was pulled out of the car and handcuffed. He was detained about 3 hours.

Customs and Border Protection spokesman Mike Milne in Seattle says it was a lawful order that travelers must obey. He says the use of force is under review.

(Auto News) Woman blows up car while trying to light cigarette

By no1camaro

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A cleaning woman who was trying to light a cigarette inside her car instead ignited fumes from cleaning products and caused an explosion that blew out the vehicle's windows and sun roof, police said.

The woman, whose name wasn't released, suffered first- and second-degree burns on her face, arms and neck and was treated at a local hospital. The blast, reported about noon in an office building parking lot, was the second time in a month that authorities responded to the report of a car explosion in the Memphis area, raising concern that the bomber had struck again, or had inspired a copycat.

Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said the woman had a lot of cleaning chemicals, including bubble gum remover, in the trunk of her car. "We got a flash, a vapor-type flash," Godwin said.

The incident followed an intentional car bombing Feb. 4 in West Memphis, Ark., that nearly killed the head of the Arkansas State Medical Board. Dr. Trent Pierce, 54, is still hospitalized and authorities have not made an arrest in that bombing.

(Auto News) Motorcyclist jailed for hitting 122 mph with son on back

By no1camaro

LONDON (AP) - A British judge has sentenced a motorcyclist to six months in jail after he was caught speeding 122 mph with his 14-year-old son clinging to the back.

A police video shows the man speeding down a road in southern England. Police clocked the motorcycle going more than twice the 60 mph limit. It also showed images of the man's son who was not wearing proper protective gloves or pants.

Attorney David Sapiecha said the man was going that speed for no more than half a mile and that he was sorry.

Judge Phillip Wassall said Monday that the 47-year-old's actions were unbelievable.

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