Can you feel the love tonight?: Why a car is more than a piece of metal on four wheels


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“A way of transport that takes you from A to B”. I have heard a lot of people saying this about cars, including my dad. That is partly true, but I think there is way more to it. Jaguar co-founder, Sir William Lions, once said: “The car is the closest thing we will ever create to something that is alive.” Let me prove it to you by breaking the article down into three parts: voice, body and character.

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VOICE: I am 110% sure that you have listened to music at some point in life (if not, you need help). So you definitely have your favorite singer or band. Not just because of what is being played, but also the power of singer’s voice. And I am talking about music, not your Chris Wests or Kanye Browns, unless their favorite car noise is the one made by Toyota Prius. Everyone has their favorite that they love, and the one they don’t care about as it sounds like any other band. It’s the same with cars. Everyone loves a good noise of a car. Some might love their four-cylinder Fiesta engine noise, others – the bellow of a V8 Dodge Charger muscle car. Then there are those I understand the least – those who love Nissan Skyline engine noise. But that’s just my taste.

Car & Woman

BODY: girls go crazy over guys like Ryan Gosling, guys can’t get over how great Jennifer Lawrence looks like. And everyone has his or her favorite look of a car. Someone might love the perfect, human-like lines on a Lamborghini Miura. The opening scene in “The Italian Job” is to petrol heads what watching Gisele Bündchen on a catwalk is to the rest. It is so darn beautiful and sensual. A celebration of beauty.

Then there are others who like cars that have been designed with a ruler, like Lamborghini Countach. An angle has a beauty in an engineering sense. The whole car model culture (which, in my view, is pathetic. That shows you’ve made a car with such a bad design you actually need women to stand next to it and hoping it somehow is going to make it look better) started in the 1970s. The age of angles in the car industry. All those Lincolns, Italian wedge-shaped sportscars and boxy family cars. They all started in the 70s and progressed in the 80s. Then there are those who are un-traditional. Like me – I love the DeLorean DMC-12, but others just look at it and thing “ugh, ugly.”

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CHARACTER: there is always a car that has some sort of a character like a human being. You have your nerds, who are like Honda Jazz– they get a chemistry experiment perfectly right, but you will not jump up and down when it happens. You probably will be distracted by the guy next to you who in his hangover will make all things go horribly wrong – that’s a Russian car. You laugh about them and their faults amuse you.

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Then you have your temperamental lovers, which, stereotypically, are Italians and French. Same with cars: Italian and French cars have their culture of breakdowns and faults, but you don’t want to leave them. They kiss and woo you when they’re happy, but when they break down, they give you the biggest headache.

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Then there’s a car that always looks little and cute. Someone that always make you smile and waul out a little “awwww.” And every time you drive it, the car cheers you up and puts that endless smile on your face, which you cannot resist even in your dullest days. It’s a car that always smiles at you, always is happy. Like a little puppy labrador, that is waiting for you impatiently until you will take him out for a walk. That’s how a Mini is. Every time I see one and all the times I’ve been driven around in one I always cannot stop smiling. It is a happy machine. Probably that’s why the most careless, childish and most positive Englishman in the world was driving one.

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Then there is Aston Martin. Have you ever seen an Aston Martin with an aftermarket wing on the back? No. So it cannot be someone who wears gold chains, walking around, looking for attention, like a Bentley or a Ferrari. Also, it is elegant and smart. It always looks like it has to be parked near an opera. It whispers quietly, but when it speaks, you can’t forget its voice and you can hear it coming from miles away. It perfectly reflects James Bond. Thank God Ian Fleming swapped Bond’s car from Bentley to Aston Martin. It is just like him.

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Also, part of character is the bondage you get during some of your big events in life. Your first car, the fastest car you’ve driven, the car you drove to that successful interview. You will never forget those ones. See? A car is way more than a lump of metal with wheels that with some mechanics applied to it moves forwards. It is your friend, your pet, your favorite art, and your memory.

The Guy Near the Car

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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. 😉