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Great Cars of Song Books (and Radio and TV and Film and. . .): The Ford Prefect.

This post could also be subtitled "Cultural References You Completely Missed For Literally Decades". For those not much into British humour, I am referring to "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams. If you liked Monty Python you would probably like Hitchhiker; if not, well, you could probably skip reading the rest of this post and feel none the worse for wear for it. For the record, I don't look up to or down at anyone who finds either of these tedious and unfunny; being a live-and-let-live kinda guy, I don't consider either to be "an acquired taste" or "more sophisticated" or any of that (heck, I find farts -- even mine -- well, okay, 1024px-1948_Ford_Prefect_E93Aespecially mine -- funny). It's different and that's that. 

At any rate, I read the book back in the early 1980s and when I read about this 'Ford Prefect' character I thought it was kind of funny, but didn't think it meant anything other than that it was a goofy name. For a bit of background, Ford is an alien who hitchhiked to Earth

from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Arthur Dent’s failure to suspect this reflects the care with which his friend blended himself into human society - after a fairly shaky start. When he first arrived fifteen years ago, the minimal research he had done had suggested to him that the name ‘Ford Prefect’ would be nicely inconspicuous.

Being a young man from the midwest, I had no idea that 'Ford Prefect' was anything other than an unusual name for someone to pick out of a hat. And so I went for many years, happily reading the books and not bothering to ponder many of the references therein very much. 

Until this whole Internets thing came along. And only recently did I do a search -- for reasons I hereby state that I do not remember -- for "Ford Prefect" and discover, lo and behold, it was a car! Since that's what we do here, I figured it was ripe for a post. 

Except that I know virtually nothing about the Ford Prefect automobile. 

Not like that's ever stopped me before. . . .

Continue reading "Great Cars of Song Books (and Radio and TV and Film and. . .): The Ford Prefect." »

Caption This





References: Tumblr

Carspotters’ Challenge #166: Chinatown, 1961

What would you recommend to check out at Chinatown?

Chinatown, 1961 tumblr_ncy1e18PxX1qdpulbo1_1280




References: Tumblr

January 25 Open Thread: "It's Snow Time!"

DSC_0599Wow, feet of snow in New England, and several inches in the South. My bud in Gainesville, Florida, said they got flurries!

Thank goodness I found a Jeep about a year ago. These past few days, it has been great for getting around, and it even jumped off another friend's dead battery yesterday.

Have you seen the video of the guy snowboarding through Times Square? The NYPD are even laughing with him.

Now the question comes up... How are you getting around in the slippery stuff? FWD? RWD? AWD? Horse and buggy? Other?

Please let us know!

And if you have anything else even ever so slightly related to cars, this is the place to speak.


--That Car Guy (Chuck)

1973: It Was A Very Good Year... For A While

▲ Please look up at our masthead. That yellow Chevy Vega GT (Or rather, what's left of it) is a 1973 model.

1973_Vega_GT-_Millionth_Vega_Special_EditionOf course, that's just a coincidence to the fact that the 1973 Vega may have been the best looking one of all... possibly because they got it right just before that hideous 1974 design came out.

The '73's front bumper was pushed a couple of inches forward from the '71 and '72 position, with a body-colored panel just behind it (For a 2.5 mph crash standard). And if you can get a good looking Vega, then dog-gone-it, you've done something right!

1973 was the last year that automakers had virtually all control over what their vehicles looked like. That's because the next year, in 1974, 5 MPH bumpers became the law of the land.

Continue reading "1973: It Was A Very Good Year... For A While" »

January 18 Weekly Open Thread: Surf Edition

No, not driving your Woody down to the beach with a couple of sticks on top for a day of catchin' waves. We have instead a car in the surf:


This thread may also function as a Caption This and a Carspotter thread. I saw this at an estate sale over the weekend and, although I didn't purchase the photograph, I decided to snap my own photo of it for posterity's sake. And now it will forever reside on the Internets for all to see, now and into the future. 

There was nothing on the front or back to either date or describe the photo so I really know nothing about it. I assume it's a west coast beach since I got it here in Seattle but we've got a lot of coastline out here to work with so it could be anywhere from here to southern California. My first thought was that it was taken in the 1960s and that it's a 1950s car. I thought 'Chrysler' when I first saw it.

So have at it. Throw out some guesses about the boys, the car, the location, the time. Make up a story about who they are and why they're out there. Or blather about anything else car-related. 

Carspotter's Challenge #165: Xtreme Motorsports, 1924

A curious find from my wife's ancestral photo albums.

Polo ponies? The license plates all read "Ohio 1924," so we can date the photo to the warm weather months of that particular year, but we have no idea who took the picture, exactly where in Ohio it was taken, or what the connection is to my wife's family (if there even is one). One of the sailors in the middle car is holding a polo mallet, which gives us some idea of what the game was.

If you can identify the gasoline-burning "polo ponies," or any of the other cars in the picture, or have any better idea of what was going on, leave a comment.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

Automobiles of Interest

You are being watched....

How The Machine sees traffic.John Reese (Jim Caviezel) is a former CIA assassin living homeless on the streets of New York City, drinking heavily and contemplating suicide after being betrayed by his employer and suffering a devastating personal loss. He meets the mysterious Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), a billionaire software genius living in well-crafted anonymity, who extends Reese an unusual job offer.

I've got a list, a list of people who are about to be involved in very bad situations: murders, kidnappings....Most of them are just ordinary people - like her....I want you to follow her, figure out what's gonna happen, and stop it from happening.

The source of Finch's "list" is The Machine, artificial intelligence software he built for the federal government after 9/11 to data-mine computerized records, e-mails, surveillance video, and telephone conversations ("... watching us with ten thousand eyes, listening with a million ears.") and use that data to predict terrorist attacks and threats to national security.

Finch's creation proved to be very good at its job--too good. The Machine successfully detected future terrorist attacks and threats to national security--and thousands of other future crimes that had nothing to do with terrorism or national security. In order to get it to provide only that information the government wanted, Finch had to instruct The Machine to sort its predictions into "relevant" and "irrelevant" categories, and delete the irrelevant ones--even though not acting on that information allows people to be hurt or killed.

Spurred to action by a loss of his own, Finch programs The Machine to send him the Social Security numbers of people on the irrelevant list. ("...nine digits, that's all we get.") Using his money and Reese's skills, he embarks on a private mission to stop everyday crimes before they happen, to save the world one "irrelevant number" at a time.

Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You'll never find us, but, victim or perpetrator, if your number's up, we'll find you.

"Team Machine," as the fans call them.

This is the premise of Person of Interest, a television series which has been on the air for four years, and in December finished filming 13 episodes of its fifth season for broadcast sometime in the spring, what is widely expected to be its final run. "POI," as we fans call it, is simultaneously a case-of-the-week detective show, a fatalistic espionage drama, a noir vigilante comic book--Batman without the bats--a serious work of hard science fiction grounded in cutting-edge computer science, a cautionary tale about surveillance technology, a meditation on good and evil, and above all a tale of broken people seeking redemption--not just the best SF series I've ever seen (sorry, Star Trek!), but the best-written drama I've ever seen, period.

Though it has its fair share of car chases and stunts, POI is not a particularly car-centric show. Nevertheless, I've identified a few subjects of interest (get it?) regarding the automobiles used in the series.

Continue reading "Automobiles of Interest" »

Carspotters’ Challenge #164: Spot the Car That Moves, Stops, Turns, etc.

Audi ad cropped

While you're carspotting, spot the German car in which this ad picture was used for. Answer after the break.

Continue reading "Carspotters’ Challenge #164: Spot the Car That Moves, Stops, Turns, etc." »

January 4 (2016!!!) Weekly Open Thread: Economics Edition

A couple of items that crossed the Car Lust desk over the long New Year's weekend, both involving perennial Car Lust favorites. 

First up is the 1986 Merkur XR4Ti Pace Car that is up for sale. According to C&D: 1986-Mercury-Merkur-XR4TI-pace-car-101

It’s a 1986 model prepared, says the seller, for the running of the ’87 Detroit Grand Prix. While the regular XR4Ti shared an engine with the Mustang SVO, the Stang got an intercooler but the Merkur didn’t. Roush plopped the SVO’s powertrain into this one, giving it 180 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque. The suspension’s been upgraded with “special” Koni struts and high-rate springs. A full cage and racing belts were added due to the automobile’s intended purpose. It even features Jack Roush’s signature on the original title.

We covered both the Merkur and the Mustang SVO, neither of which are particularly common or highly valued these days except by a minority of enthusiasts. I'm not sure how much it might go for, but I'm guessing it won't break any records. 

Next is an "Ultra-rare Muscle Car. . .That's Practically Being Given Away", which may strike an odd chord to some as it's supposedly going for $55k:

Why so little money? A mystery for the ages, as one would assume it's because the car just isn't in high demand like a Mustang would be. It's no slouch on the drag strip either, as for its time the Rebel with this 390ci V8 was meant for setting quarter-mile times of 14 seconds. It's fast, a sleeper, and damn cool. So with all this flare and retaining its ability to outrun police from the past, it begs the question of why cars like this are essentially thrown to the wayside for pocket change.

The sad(?) fact of economics is that nothing has intrinsic monetary value, neither people nor things; their value is determined by what someone wants to pay for them. Mustangs and Camaros go for a lot of money because people are willing to pay a lot of money for them. It's due in part to rarity, but not all. These cars are very emblematic of the 1960s muscle car era and that's something a certain segment of the population values very highly. Hence, they're willing to pony up (heh) the dough for them. 

To outsiders, the "crazy" valuing of certain objects may seem strange. Why do people pay thousands (or even millions) of dollars for a bottle of wine they're never even going to drink? Why do emergency room physicians, who save lives daily, get paid far less than actors who play emergency room physicians on TV? Because there's a market for such things and people willing to pay money for them.

In my own little enthusiast area, vintage audio equipment, some items seem to be far more valuable than their intrinsic qualities -- age, sound quality, etc. -- would would seem to suggest. Old McIntosh equipment can go for hundreds (even thousands) of dollars.You've probably never heard of Dynaco speakers, but a really good pair from as far back as the 1960s will go for a few hundred dollars. A very good Pioneer SX-1250 stereo receiver from the 1970s usually go for at least $1000; I've seen a couple up for sale at estate sales, but I've never actually seen one since they're usually gone within the first 30 minutes. Though arguments about sound quality can sometimes get quite heated in some quarters (Heaven help you if you take a side in the Great Vinyl vs. Digital Wars), you're almost always assured to get better sound with modern equipment than vintage. But people don't buy that stuff for sound quality, they buy it for. . . .who knows? Nostalgia. Aesthetic value. Whatever, it's up to them. 

Hence, feel free to discuss the Power of the Market or anything else automotive that springs to mind. 


Carspotters' Challenge #163: Great Uncle Homer's Ride

My wife recently came into a collection of old photographic negatives that belonged to her Uncle Bud and Aunt Ora. We began running them through the fancy new photo scanner and image-editing software that Santa brought us, and came across this interesting image.

Uncle Homer's Car - hi resIt's one of a set of pictures Uncle Bud took on a visit to Great Uncle Homer's farm. (That's Homer himself in the picture below.) The license plate dates the roll of film to 1937. The car is obviously much older than that, but I have no idea of the exact year, make, or model. I am not enough of a student of cars of this period to know if the radiator design or the little diamond motifs on Uncle Homer with Dogsthe bumper have any identifying significance. I racked up the scanner's resolution as high as our computer could stand, but there are no badges, scripts, or other identifying markings that I could make out. The OEM hood ornament or Moto-Meter has been replaced with an aftermarket Donald Duck figurine--establishing Great Uncle Homer's status as a Disney fan beyond a reasonable doubt, but giving us no help in identifying the car.

So, can anyone out there help us out? If you know what this car is, or might be, leave a comment below.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner


Caption This

"You're not going to believe what I saw in the store today."

Bike in store

I'm sure some much better quotes come to mind!

--That Car Guy (Chuck)



December 28 Weekly Open Thread: "Battle of the 1970s Super Cars," live action edition

Submitted for your amusement, a clip from the delightful German police fantasy Alarm fur Cobra 11: die Autobahnpolizei, in which our hero Komissar Semir Gerkhan (Erdogan Atalay) drives a BMW M-1 in pursuit of a Porsche 917 endurance racer like the one Steve McQueen drove in Le Mans.

This is the place to talk about BMW M1s, Porsche 917s, Cobra 11, endurance racing, dueling 1970s super cars in general, the new road toy you got for Christmas, or anything else automotive.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

December 21 Weekly Open Thread: Fakery Edition

I suppose this could also work as a Carspotters' Challenge, but I also thought it would be interesting as an exercise in historical reconstruction. We begin with this photo of a 1950s car show:


This photo was taken on Saturday, May 15, 1954 in a Thrifty Drug Store parking lot at the corner of Rodeo Rd. and Rancho La Brea in Los Angeles. Nice collection of cars, no? Well, there's something wrong with it. Have a guess before clicking below the fold.

Continue reading "December 21 Weekly Open Thread: Fakery Edition" »

Carspotters’ Challenge #162: Should've Gone To Pasadena

It's in California, that much I know.


Click here for full size.





Caption This





References: IMCDb

Initial D Fujiwara Tofu Shop Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT-APEX xinsrc_20110230181570331449125We’ve talked, albeit very briefly, a couple of years back, on the chassis-code AE86 Toyota Corolla platform, so why is this one any different? What is it about it that inspires replicas to be built all around the world, let alone inspire a college buddy of mine to replicate it as best as he could (Sorry, no pics. He sold it soon after)? Because it’s a hero car for a niche of a niche entertainment category (read: anime)?

Yes, and to be fair, this car is not so different from other well-cared AE86s… not until later anyways.

Continue reading "Initial D Fujiwara Tofu Shop Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT-APEX" »

Initial D: A Love Story

Initial D facebook banner

Have you ever had something (not someone) that has been part of a surprisingly good chunk of your life, for better or worse? Most of my friends would just say ‘videogames’, which is a little vague. I’ll just lump ‘em under Nintendo and/or Pokémon, since those two are forever intertwined. For me, it’s an anime, a car anime to be specific. You may have heard it: Initial D.

Continue reading "Initial D: A Love Story" »

The Mystery Machine

090603_MysteryMachineAuthor’s note: I’m going to focus on the Mystery Machine we all know and love. Even though I’ve watched a lot of Scooby-Doo over the years and because the Scooby universe is quite large, details will be missed. Not even as a kid could I have watched it all. And some of the stuff is just plain unwatchable!

Continue reading "The Mystery Machine" »

Happy 50th Anniversary, Charlie Brown! (But wait! There's More!)

Christmas trees. Falconad01

Egg nog.

Festive lights. 

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Santa Claus and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe and presents to pretty girls.

Christmas carols.

Stockings hung by the chimney with care.

And the 1961 Ford Falcon?

Well, no. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on the television.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of perhaps the best-loved Christmas special ever: A Charlie Brown Christmas, which aired on the CBS network on December 9, 1965. I was but a wee lad at the time so I have no memory of that first broadcast; I certainly watched it later on, probably every year while I was growing up, and most years since, but whether I saw it that very first night or have any memory of it is beyond my recollection. I'd guess my parents most likely turned it on that first night, as I had two siblings that likely would have enjoyed it. 

Now, much has been said and written about the Peanuts Christmas special, and today (Monday, November 30) ABC Television will air the digitally restored version of the program along with an hour-long special beforehand documenting the making of the original, appropriately named It's Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown!.

In all this 50th Anniversary hoopla, one might be tempted to think that this was the Peanuts gang's first foray into network television. Well, you'd be almost right. While this was Charles Schulz's first feature program on television, Charlie Brown and Co. had appeared earlier in the form of TV commercials. For Ford. 

So step below the fold and we'll examine these early television incarnations of the Peanuts gang and see what they had to offer the prospective car buyer of the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

Continue reading "Happy 50th Anniversary, Charlie Brown! (But wait! There's More!)" »

Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

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