About pop-up headlights and the film “Rush”


Raise the lights: what happened to the cool pop-up headlights?

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When was the last time you saw a brand new car that has one of the coolest features ever to be featured to a car – pop-up headlights? Somewhere just after the new millennium, right? Lotus Esprit V8 and the 5th Generation Corvette were the last car models who had this privilege to carry these admired car styling cues. For over a decade car designers, engineers and parts purchasers have forgotten all about them. Why? Well…let me tell you a story.

The first encounter with pop-ups in a production car was in 1930s, with Cord 810. Their pop-ups were rather interesting – they firstly didn’t exactly pop-up, but rolled around and it was achieved not by electric motors, but a great friend of 1930s automobiles and all of Soviet era trucks – mechanical crank.

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Cord 810

The craze of pop-ups didn’t start until 1970s/1980s. Many people argue which car was the one who triggered this craze but most of them say it was Lamborghini who did it with Miura and Countach. Also it is hard to agree on which is the most iconic car with pop-ups – Lotus Esprit, almost all of Ferraris of that era (especially Magnum’s 308GTS), even Mazda MX5 (or Miata (pronounced “meyaadah”), as it is called in America. Probably because Americans find it too hard to understand abbreviations). It doesn’t matter which one was the most iconic. The fact of the matter is this – everyone loved them and thought they were so cool….well…everyone APART from some ridiculous safety geeks who one day had nothing to do and were so annoyed with their job they suddenly became moody and all decided that pop-ups are “dangerous for pedestrian safety”…….what? Instead of encouraging subsidies which would’ve sped up the development of car safety technology they urged governments to unanimously ban pop-up headlight production. Probably this was one of schemes funded by Hyundai and Peugeot so people can start buying their unreliable, cheap, plastic garbages on wheels.

You might say to yourselves “hey, you lunatic. They are right. Those things can cut into your chest and split you in half”. Now stop right there. You are supporting one absolutely ridiculous thing – “improvement of pedestrian safety in a car crash”. Pop-up headlights don’t kill people. The impact itself does. It’s like trying to cure baldness by not washing your head anymore….sounds illogical? So is the reason for banning pop-up headlights. See my point? Good. Let’s go further…

Crashes…ok. People do get hit once in a while, of course. But you have to ask three questions:

1) What was the pedestrian doing on the road?
2) Why did the driver hit the pedestrian?
3) Was it intentional/unintentional?

Answer these three questions and THEN you will improve the “safety” of pedestrians, if you want to call it that way. Do pop-up headlights answer any of these three questions?

To further show the pointlessness of “pedestrian safety,” let’s look in not so distant past: Volvo introduced the “pedestrian airbag” in their new V40. Everybody jumped up and down, said “pedestrians are safe and just about every car in the world will have it!” Well, guess what…they’re dropping it because the technology that helps their cars avoiding crashes is more effective than that ridiculous pillow to make the fall of the corpse more comfortable. (http://www.autoblog.com/2013/12/01/volvo-pedestrian-airbag-canceled/)

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Volvo V40 and the pedestrian airbag

So there you have it – to sort out pedestrian safety, do two things: 1) keep pedestrians off the roads and 2) invest more into the crash-avoidance technology like automatic emergency brakes.

The Rush of 1976: The great rivalry of Lauda and Hunt

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Speed, precision, “20% chance of death”, an Austrian businessman’s son, a rebellious English schoolboy and the 1970s glamour: the ingredients of one of the greatest rivalries in the history of Motorsport that changed the face of Formula 1 forever and it made one of the fastest motorsports in the world a household name. The 1975 season saw a glorious, narrow victory for Niki Lauda who left James Hunt in 4th in the championship and almost finished his career for good. If not just for McLaren’s despair to get a new driver, this rivalry would’ve only remained a “what if” story. But it happened and, arguably, was the most exciting Formula 1 season in its 64 year history, and just recently was a base to the equally intriguing film “Rush” where this rivalry was seen in a briefer scale. So…my thoughts about the film.

The general impression of the film was “oh my dear Lord, it was better than I thought it would be“. I definitely would recommend people to see it.

…but in detail…

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The epilogue of the film for ones who have never known about this legend was perfect – start of the Nürburgring, showing both contenders and giving a small indication what is about to happen in the film. The story itself was also great. One thing I would’ve loved would be having the story a little bit more spread out, less hasty than it was. Because it showed too little of the actual racing, not talking enough about the danger of F1 driving in the 1970s. It did show it, but, in my opinion, not enough.

Another issue to me was some CGI effects of driving. Some of the crashes (especially the very first crash that Lauda and Hunt had in Formula 3) looked very unreal in terms of physics. However some of them were really, really good. Especially Niki Lauda’s crash at Nürburgring. It might sound a bit wrong but the crash scene was executed perfectly (as much as I have seen from the footage of the actual crash with him crashing into the wall and then Brett Lunger crashing into his car and making a huge inferno of petrol, carbon fibre and Lauda being in it.

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In terms of quotes my most favourite one (that truly reflects myself) was this: “Men love women. Even more than that men….love….CARS!” It was really true and was performed just perfectly with a growling engine roar coming afterwards, cutting straight to the Formula 3 race scene. (The clip of the quote and a small preview of the film below)

Historic accuracy was also spot on (apart from dramatisations of both heroes’ lives). Lauda’s role was played by Daniel Brühl who did a fantastic job recreating the great Austrian’s “rat face” (as everyone in F1 called him) and, in some parts (especially after the Nürburgring crash) he looked like Niki himself. One issue that there was, in my opinion, was actor’s impression of Lauda’s accent. It was a bit…Spanish, probably because of actor’s origin. Hunt’s portrayer Chris Hemsworth, on the other hand, made sometimes me think that an actual footage of interviews was used to create the film because he looked exactly like Hunt. Resemblance was creepily accurate. In the end of the film they showed some actual footage of Hunt and mixed it with ….’s footage from the film. Absolutely sublime.

If you haven’t seen the film, please, get it and watch it. If you have seen the film, comment your thoughts about it.

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Niki Lauda and James Hunt before a race, showing that despite their intense rivalry they still had some friendly chatter.

Thanks for reading my blog once again. Stay tuned for next week’s post. Until then, I’m outta here. 😉

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