Friday, June 15, 2012

Introducing Flying Cars

The very term “flying cars” conjures different science fiction-type images for each person. Flying cars have been in the works since the advent of the airplane. The dream of being able to lift off from your driveway, make a straight line to your destination and gracefully land, has been on the forefront of inventors’ minds for decades. It’s been in the public’s mind, too. Every rush hour, every day, in every city people are wishing they could lift off and escape the gridlock.
What’s our progress with flying cars? Will we ever be truly air-bound? 
Hybrid Vehicles – Half Air/Half Land
Hybrid has taken on the meaning of half electric/half gasoline, but this is something entirely different. The most recent functional flying cars are hybrids of air vehicles and land vehicles.
•    Terrafugia Transition – The Transition has been in development for years and has been making great strides. The most recent incarnation is a mix between a small private plane and a compact automobile. The wings fold up and stand vertically at the cars side. It runs on normal gasoline.  It can reach 70 MPH on land and 115 MPH in the air. However, it is unlikely to reach the mass market:  it will run $300,000. It also requires a long runway, like a standard airplane, to be able to take off. On top of that, there are still legal regulations on personal flight vehicles that have yet to be overcome.
•    PAL – V – Short for “Personal Air and Land Vehicle,” this is a hybrid vehicle that is a small gyrocopter mixed with a racecar. It can reach 110 PMH in the air and on the ground. This exciting development is capable of vertical takeoffs. Within minutes the gyrocopter propellers expand and it is ready to takeoff. It is a European arrival; it currently can legally drive and fly around town.
Neither of these two vehicles really matches what most people think of when they hear the idea “flying car.”  Instead, they are more hybrid vehicles capable of transforming from one to the other. Both of them have very high price tags and are likely to end up as novel toys for the wealthy. It is unlikely they will be transforming our day-to-day life anytime in the future, but if they ever do, is the place to get the parts for that and any type of car.
A Step in the Right Direction: The Volkswagen Hover Car
Hovercrafts have been around for decades. They fizzled out after the public realized they really did not “hover;” they simply floated around on inflated bags of air. They have been downgraded to a novelty and are rarely seen these days.
The Volkswagen Hover Car is no hovercraft. While it is still in it’s concept stage, this vehicle stands to truly revolutionize the auto industry. It truly hovers above the ground, with no aspect of the vehicle touching the road.
It uses electromagnetic levitation technology to lift itself. It has a central joystick that is used to control the infinite angles that it can navigate. It comes with sensors that can detect a collision before it happens and stop on a moment’s notice. It is still in the concept phase and likely a few years away from being a palpable reality.
When Do I Get One?
We are still far away from the mass market having access to flying cars.  The models discussed here are still in development, and many will be unattainable once they do reach the market due to a high sticker price.
However, the technology is being developed further every day. Within a few more decades, it is entirely possible that we will be flying to work every day!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Drag Racing - The Perfect Launch

Drag racing, a contest between two cars beginning from a complete stop over a distance of a 1/4 mile (1320 feet) depends heavily on first 60 feet of the race, or the launch. The technique used for launching varies greatly depending on the how the car is equipped. The type of transmission, which wheels are being driven, tires, power, suspension and track preparation all play key roles in how to go about getting the best launch possible from the car.

Improvements on the time it takes for the car to travel the first 60 feet down the track have significant implications on the final ET (estimated time). As a general rule, improvements in the 60 foot time, are magnified by 2x on your final ET. For example, a Dodge Viper GTS that runs a 12.2 @ 120 MPH in the 1/4 mile with a 60 foot time of 2.0 can make significant improvements to it's 1/4 mile times by obtaining a better launch. More examples can be found by searching through the thousands of 60 foot records in the drag racing database.

If too much power is applied during the launch and the tires spin, the resulting 60 foot time will be poor. The same goes for not applying enough power, thereby causing the car's engine to bog, and having the car limp off the line slowly.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Auto/Car Insurance Coverage: Liability

Auto Insurance plans are usually packaged as liability or comprehensive coverage. Your purchase insurance to protect yourself and your family in the event of losses to your person or property and you protect yourself against losses suffered by others. This article will cover Liability Coverage plans and explain them in more detail. Future articles will discuss comprehensive coverage.

Liability Coverage (BI)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pioneering Lady Racing Driver

Dorothy Levitt, a daring lady who loved adventure, challenge and speed was one of Britain's pioneer women automobile racers. She first shocked British society in 1903 when she entered the Southport Speed Trials and won in her class. She was the first woman to even compete in an auto race and a working woman at that. Were it not for mechanical problems she would have won a gold medal driving her De Dion car in the Hereford 1,000 mile trial. She drove an 80hp Napier at the annual speed trials at Brighton in 1905 and won both her class and the Autocar Challenge Trophy.

In 1906 Levitt entered a speed trial in Blackpool driving a six cylinder Napier. When her recorded speed was 96 mph she earned the description of "the fastest girl on earth." She established another women's record in the Shelsley Walsh Speed Hillclimb. This time, driving 50hp Napier, she accomplished the climb in 92.4 seconds. Dorothy was twelve seconds faster than the winning male driver and her record stood for seven years. In 1905 she drove a De Dion-Bouton round trip from London to Liverpool, establishing a record for the longest drive completed by a female driver.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Classic Prewar BMW 328 That Set the Stage for BMW's Legend

There are many auto and classic car knowledgeable enthusiasts who would say that if one had to choose one single pre-war car as the most significant in the early development of the modern high-performance sports car, it would have to be the BMW Type 328 fine motorcar. This model made its first appearance at a Nurburgring race meeting. There was little doubt about it for the sporting car aficionados that while the six-cylinder engine with its highly unusual valve-gear gave an exceptional power output along with a testy maximum speed range of around 161 kph (100 mph).

By 1936 the well known BMW famed motorcyclist Ernst Henne appeared in a very smart new 2 seater powered by the 1971 cc engine. It had a new type of cylinder head. In this, the first BMW Type 328, Henne ran away with the 2 litre sports car class at an average speed of just over 100kph (62 mph), finishing more than three minutes ahead of the runner-up.

Fiedler had designed new valve gear for the now familiar six-cylinder BMW engine, achieving a massive power increase to 80 bhp at 5000 rpm. The chain-driven camshaft still occupied the same position, low down on the nearside of the engine, from which it had previously operated in-line valves through pushrods and rockers but the top it off now there were hemispherical combustion chambers in the new alloy head, with inclined valves. The inlets were opened by push rods and rockers as before, but the exhaust valves now had two sets of push-rods and rockers, one set of push-rods being placed horizontally so that the valves could be located on the other side of the combustion chambers. This arrangement worked well despite its apparent complexity. The 328 engine looked very much like a double overhead cam unit.

At a time when most sports cars still had separate mudguards and headlamps, the 328 paved the way for the transition to all-enveloping bodywork. As a sports car it was just a nice car with handy size. Overall length being 12 feet. The wheelbase was 7 feet, front track 3 ft, and rear track 4 ft exactly. Surprisingly, the ground clearance was almost 8.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Bentley Boys - An Ultra-Exclusive Chronograph

Between 1924 and 1930, Bentley won the famous Le Mans 24 Hours race five times. This was the era of the legendary Bentley Boys. As a partner to the British car manufacturer, Breitling has chosen to mark the occasion by issuing a limited series dedicated to this top-level competition.

Gifted sportsmen, genuine amateurs and high-spirited ladies' men, the Bentley Boys raced primarily for honor, fired by a taste for challenges. For four consecutive years, from 1927 to 1930, they won the race in great style. Their names were "Benjy" Benjafield, a Harley Street doctor; Tim Birkin, the best British driver of the period; Sammy Davis, chief editor of The Autocar magazine; Bernard Rubin and Glen Kidston... But the most famous of all was Woolf Barnato, a multimillionaire South African diamond merchant. This flamboyant figure, who did much to establish the legend of the Bentley Boys in the public imagination,won the Le Mans 24 Hours race three years in a row. In 1930, he won an historic triumph for his last race.
An ultra-exclusive chronograph

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Environment is Destroying the Motor Car

This view, expressed by The New Cars Network, is echoed widely across the motor industry.

A more joined-up thought process could create positive benefit for the environment without further de-stabilising the motor industry and fuelling inflation. The measures play to the gallery without producing the results they're supposed to return. Taxing through VED (Vehicle Excise Duty) on bigger cars may appeal if you feel envious because the guy over the road's dogs go walkies in the back of a new BMW Touring. But does it make sense to load extra overhead on the washing machine service man with 3 children next door because he bought a People Carrier? Dealers of new cars, used cars and car leasing agents are already seeing a change in buying patterns as buyers turn to smaller, more economical cars. At first sight that looks like good news for the environment, but building a Fiat Punto doesn't soak up that much less resource than building a Ford Galaxy. A recent Autocar article highlighted the imbalanced concentration that places the motor industry in the ecological firing line. Matt Saunders observed that little pressure is being applied to homeowners to buy more efficient central heating boilers. The article fuels speculation that government's focus on the evil automobile is driven by political rather than environmental motives. Imposing higher taxes on 4x4s looks attractive when we consider the queue of Shoguns and Freelanders outside the local primary school. But does a 4WD Fiat Panda really eat more ozone than a BMW 330?