Jay Leno Goes Aeronautical with this Plymouth pickup: Video
Jay Leno is no stranger to custom, one-off builds. His garage full of such creation that were designed and built with little practicality – all parked next to meticulously restored historical vehicles and factory-fresh examples of timeless classics. None of them are more grandiose or nonsensical than this 1939 Plymouth pickup truck.
It’s powered by a 757 cubic-inch, seven-cylinder radial engine lifted from a 195 Cessna seaplane from the late 1940s. Both the truck and the plane sat in Gary Corns’ salvage yard in Colorado for nearly 30 years before he dreamt up this unseal concoction.
He decided to marry the radial engine with the pickup and cover every square inch with a period aeronautical theme. The result has this Plymouth pickup looking like a WWII-era bomber. Corns and his volunteer team of friends put the project together over several months working after hours on Wednesdays. Bare metal skin with rivets make the truck look like an aluminum aircraft, compete with roof-mounted windows, hand-painted warning signs, and red and green signal lights.
The Jacobs radial engine sends roughly 300 horsepower to the rear wheels via a heavy duty V-drive from a boat. A massive belt from a supercharger connects the V-drive to the engine’s output shaft where the missing propeller would attach.
Sadly, cooling is a major issue with the engine. Restricted airflow and a small reservoir of engine oil keeps its run time under 15 minutes before it begins overheating. Still, that’s plenty of time to enjoy this outrageous radial-powered pickup. There’s no doubt this project makes a small-block Chevy engine swap seem like child’s play.
Be sure to turn up the volume and enter full-screen mode. You’ll want the full experience with this 26-minute video.
Continue reading for more information.
Ladies And Gentlemen, China’s Traffic Straddling Bus Is An Actual Thing Now
Note: Image above courtesy of Shanghaiist
If you have Facebook or any other social media platform, you’ve probably seen video renderings of the traffic straddling bus that’s supposed to cure traffic woes all over the world. It was a novel idea, and like many ideas of that ilk, it was subject to a lot of debate. A lot of people loved it. A lot of people hated it. And that was when the straddling bus was nothing more but a rendering. If by some miracle it actually ended up becoming the real thing, imagine what kind of debate it would create. Well, let the words fly now because China has actually built a working prototype of the traffic straddling bus. More incredibly, it’s about to go on a real-life test run.
To be fair, the traffic straddling bus isn’t just an idea that was thought of one day and created the next. The proposal has actually been on the table for years but it wasn’t until May 2016 when an actual mini model - yes, that happened too - was unveiled at the 19th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo and computer-generated renderings of the bus hit social media. Since then, the video has been shared viewed and shared millions of times with some people lauding the ingenuity behind it while others openly mocked the idea as a too much of a “Jetsons kind of thing.”
The reactions surrounding the proposal didn’t deter the developers of the bus, who, somewhat shockingly, only took a few months to actually create the first prototype of the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), as it will come to be known from now one. That test run will take place in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, about 186 miles southwest of Beijing. Since the TEB is still a long ways away from becoming fully functional, the initial run will only feature one bus carriage running on a controlled track measuring just 300 meters in length. It’s not much, but it’s a start.
Once it becomes fully operation - if it ever reaches that point - one TEB can will be able to carry as many as 1,200 passengers at a time and travel at speeds of about 37 miles per hour. More importantly, it would prove to be a far cheaper solution than building subways or train platforms. It still sounds a little silly thinking about it, but the TEB has made it this far to remain skeptical about its potential. All that’s left for the developers is to make sure that it lives up to that potential.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
2000 Lotus 340R
When you’re a company like Lotus, you can build things that are a little out of the ordinary from time to time. Take, for example, the Lotus 340R. It’s a special-edition model derived from the Lotus Elise. It shares the same underpinnings, but features a custom-built body shell with no roof or doors to speak of – that’s right, the only way to get into this bad boy is to jump over the edge. There’s more to it than its unique body style, though. Only 340 examples were built, all of which sold out prior to the car’s official debut, and it comes equipped with exclusive tires made by Yokohama.
The 340R is a mid-engined roadster, and all 340 examples were built with the same silver and black two-tone finish. It was built at the brand’s Hethel factory and was never slated for the U.S. market, so it’s not exactly road legal here in the states. It is, however, road-legal in the U.K. – the market it was originally built for. That said, there are a few that may have crossed the big drink to the U.S., but there is only one that is claimed to be road-legal in the states, and that is the one pictured here.
The car you see in our photo gallery was listed for sale on Ebay back in 2014, and, as of this writing, it’s now being sold by a local dealer in Hollywood, Florida, with just over 3,500 miles. So, let’s take a few minutes to go over this special-edition model and see what it brings to the table.
Continue reading to see what made the Lotus 340R so special.
“Monster Trucks” Movie Takes Product Placement to a New Level
Paramount Pictures is working its post-production magic on a new live action and CGI combo flick called Monster Trucks. Yep, it’s a play on words as the movie combines digitally created monsters inhabiting live action trucks with big tires and interacting with real actors. Watch the trailer and you’ll see some big-name actors, along with quite a few Ram pickup trucks. A lot of Ram trucks, actually.
You’ll also see nearly every other FCA product thanks to a scene taking place at a Chrysler, Jeep, Ram dealership. Ram 1500s, 2500s, 3500s, and Power Wagons? Check. Ram ProMaster? Check. Lonely Chrysler 200s in the background? Check again.
The remainder of the two-minute trailer shows the good guys driving Ram trucks, the bad guys driving Ram trucks, random extras in the background driving Ram trucks – it’s like the movie was filmed behind Ram’s Auburn Hills, Michigan headquarters. In reality, the movie was shot in British Columbia, Canada, with plenty of picturesque backdrops like rolling hills, small towns, and two-lane highways – all full of Ram trucks. There’s even a Case forklift, a brand that’s owned by CNH Industrial, which has ties to Fiat.
The movie’s main character, Tripp, finds himself the keeper of an alien monster that looks like the ungodly offspring between an octopus and whale. Of course, the blob-thing is friendly and loves to impersonate drivetrain components in Tripp’s old 1954 Dodge pickup. Government bad guys try to contain the scary-because-we-don’t-know-what-it-is monster and the predictable plotline kicks off.
I reached out to Ram about the blatant number of its products in the move. I was told, “We [have] a product placement agreement with Paramount Pictures and provided Ram trucks for the Monster Truck movie, coming in January.” You most certainly did, Ram. You most certainly did.
The movie is slated to debut in U.S. theaters in January of 2017.
Continue reading for more news/opinions on Ram Trucks’ new movie
History has been cruel to any number of cars, and even carmakers, but the story of Tatra and the T87 might bring a tear to the eyes of some enthusiasts. Tatra was a Czechoslovak company from the days when that was a thing. It is mostly famous for making the V570, the car Ferdinand Porsche is said to have ripped off for the design of the Volkswagen Beetle. A lawsuit from Tatra over the design was only stopped by the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. But it was the T87 that was Tatra’s real masterpiece. Far from being a “people’s car,” the T87 was a marvel of design and technology at the time.
WWII was obviously hugely disruptive to a lot more than just the automotive industry, but it was ultimately also the reason why so few T87s were ever made. The car has never really managed to break out of the near-obscurity it was born into in 1936. It was produced after the war, all the way up until 1950, but it never really took off in terms of sales. But one showed up at Pebble Beach this year, and that’s always a good enough reason to sing its praises once again.
Continue reading for my full review of the Tatra T87.
Disruptive innovation. Disruptive. Innovation. You know, I think that might be my favorite two-word phrase of all time. Better than “first car” or “first kiss,” better than “Buick Regal,” “I do” or even “Your place.” There’s just something about those words that sings true to everything right (or at least constructively anarchist) in my being.
An innovation is said to be “disruptive” when it forces a rapid enough change to an entire market that those involved will either be forced to adopt an entirely new business model, or shut doors forever. It creates entirely new markets and value systems by designing for a new set of consumers, and eventually drops prices for existing consumers. Some examples might include the Model T for automobiles, Wikipedia for traditional encyclopedias, LEDs for light bulbs, computer printing to movable type, and of course (here’s looking at you, kid), the internet. Disruptive innovation is like the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs; it’s London burning and plague rats rolled into one – particularly if you happen to get caught on the wrong side of it.
Here in this century – nevermind electric cars or clean energy – self-driving cars will almost certainly prove to be the most disruptive innovation since the steam engine. Or at least the Model T. Not just to the automobile industry, either; to every industry with which automobiles are even tangentially connected, including mining, manufacturing and of course, energy. That might sound like hyperbole, but you can bet that the guys with the big wallets take this looming disruption very seriously indeed.
You have to wonder if the dinosaurs did the same – just before it was too late to matter.
In this two-part article, we’re first going to look at the surprisingly long timeline of the self-driving car, from the first radio control systems proposed all the way back at the 1939 World’s Fair, to the ultimate evolution of its visionary concept. We’re going to go way past the “Level 4” self-driving systems most people imagine when they hear the words “autonomous car,” and crank this disruptively technological dial all the way up to 11. You might be surprised at how close we already are to unbelievable things, how much closer we’re getting to the almost unimaginable, and how much we already owe to those who imagined those things first.
The second half of this article will be something like the second half of the “Future of Electric Cars," published last month. In the second part, we’re going to go into the social (and more importantly) economic aspects of the self-driving systems we’ll have soon. There’s a reason manufacturers and oil barons are terrified of these things; you’ll find out exactly why they fear this particular asteroid so much in the second half.
Then again, it’s not as though they didn’t have plenty of warning. Unlike the dinosaurs, auto manufacturers have seen this fireball coming for almost a century. And that’s where we start – with the first glimpse of one disruptive innovation, and a techno-punk vision that will shape our future.
Continue reading for the full story.
Ever wish you had a monster truck as a kid? Of course you did! Well now you can actually buy a half-sized, fully functional version built for kids between eight and 18 years old.
The Mini Monster Truck’s backbone is a fully boxed, tube frame chassis constructed from 2-inch diameter tubing. On top is a fiberglass body ready for sponsorship decals and logos. It rides on 40-inch-tall agricultural tires with steel rims. Solid axles front and rear offer 4WD. Nitrogen-filled, remote-reservoir shocks front and rear make the truck’s ride just as smooth as the real deal. And if your kid (or you) manages to get this beast stuck, a winch is ready for recovery duty.
Powering this pint-sized pounder is a Ford-sourced four-cylinder gas engine with an available shot of nitrous oxide, perfect for picking up speed for jumps – or so says the promotional material. While it does have NOS, it might be the slowest vehicle so equipped, as the truck tops out at 25 mph. That’s likely due to the super low gearing in the axles and the two-speed transmission.
The truck also comes fitted with a Kicker audio system, LED lights, and a GoPro camera – because even eight-year-olds want to video their nighttime cornfield parties.
But perhaps the most shocking aspect about this truck is its price. The custom-built, made-to-order Mini Monster Truck retails for an astonishing $125,000. Ouch! And don’t expect this thing to double as your teenager’s ride to school. This 4,500-pound truck is by no means road legal.
Continue reading for the full story.
Meet “The Neverending Article.” It seems like a pretty straightforward proposition, right? Compare and contrast the major motivators out there today. No problem. And it probably wouldn’t have been, if we’d just stopped at Part I of this article, which focused almost exclusively on powertrain options available for the last 20 years or so. But here in The Future, the minute you think you’re done writing about one kind of powertrain, you’re right back to recycling the intro from the last article to open the next one.
But hasn’t that been the way of the automotive industry for the last century or so? Slightly modifying a product that was mediocre to begin with so it seems relevant compared to similarly mediocre products? The next iteration is rarely about net improvement so much as it is keeping up with the neighbors. It’s a Sisyphean task indeed, not recycling the same crap from last year; over-using the same tired approaches for decades, and pretending as though “new and improved” weren’t a suspiciously relative compliment at best.
In Part II of our Powertrain Showdown, we’re going to go over some of the “weirder” technologies out there. Though probably the weirdest thing about a lot of them is how recycled they actually are. Sure, taken out of context, some of these ideas seem a little bit out there in left field; but a lot of them have been around at least as long as today’s powertrains. It’s just that they, like hybrid and electric technologies, have languished in under-development from the century-long scourge of cheap gasoline.
But, you have to give antiquated piston-engine technology this: it did make writing about powertrains a pretty straightforward endeavor for a while. At least when you were done talking about gas and diesel, you were done talking. Unlike today, where our Neverending Article continues with Part II, and our boulder rolls right back down the hill again.
The Lyons Motor Car LM2 Streamliner was a no-show for the press days of the New York Auto Show, but the promise of the first-ever American-made hypercar finally made its way to the Javits Center yesterday… courtesy of a flatbed tow truck. Although chances are slim to none that the 1,700-horsepower amorphous blob will ever become a reality, show-goers will at least get an up-close look at what has to be one of the craziest concept cars since the 1990s.
As if the car’s absence from the media days last week wasn’t a big enough letdown, Lyons Motor Car didn’t help its case on social media. Yesterday, the company’s Facebook page posted three low-quality images of the car being delivered to the show floor. This isn’t exactly a promising start for a startup automaker already receiving plenty of skepticism.
To be fair, it’s probably not easy for an independent company trying to compete for media time at a major auto show. Of all the vehicles to debut at the New York Auto Show – both planned and as surprises – the Lyons Motor Car LM2 Streamliner was to be one of the most intriguing, with its odd styling and outlandish power and performance claims. In addition to the aforementioned power rating from the rear-mounted, twin-turbo V-8, Lyons Motor Car also claims that the LM2 Streamliner can accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 2.2 seconds “or better,” as well as run the quarter-mile in eight seconds.
Continue reading to learn more about the Lyons LM2 Streamliner.
Needing the right tool for the job often requires ingenuity. That’s exactly the case at Nissan’s Stanfield, Arizona proving grounds. The team of engineers needed a truck-like vehicle to haul test gear, but something that got great gas mileage around the 3,050-acre complex.
Meet Sparky, the wild idea a few Nissan engineers cooked up while trying to solve the dilemma. The team started with a stock Nissan LEAF, the all-electric hatchback and combined it with several parts scavenged off a Nissan Frontier pickup. The combination is something of a Frankenstein, but it gets the job done.
Not using a drop of fuel, little Sparky makes his way across the grounds and helps out with testing of future Nissan products. "I needed a project for a team building activity so we can bring the team together. We had a need for a truck. Something to drive around, a shop truck," says Roland Schellenberg, one of Nissan’s masterminds behind Sparky.
Helping build Sparky was Arnold Moulinet. “I went home and stayed up till like four in the morning making all kinds of designs for what would work,” he says. “We basically got the stock Leaf, and after reviewing a bunch of designs of pickup trucks that we have here at Nissan, we decided to go with a Frontier bed.”
Now the Nissan development team has an electrically powered mini truck that functions as park of the team. “It’s something that we all put together,” says Schellenberg. “We all share, so it has a little bit of everybody in there.”
Some folks really like art. Others, including us, really like cars. Well, the two worlds can sometimes come together with dramatic results. Take for example the Lamborghini dealership in Miami, Florida and their collaboration with the world-renowned artist Duaiv. Together, the two have fashioned this, the Aventador Roadster known as “Project Duaiv.”
The $400,000 Italian supercar is wrapped in the same swirly colors and patterns as the original painting, seen perched atop an easel beside the roadster. Apparently, Duaiv has a thing for fast cars as he reportedly showed up to Lamborghini Miami in a similarly wrapped Ferrari. The report from the DuPont Registry says Duaiv has always wanted an Aventador, and now, has finally gotten his dream car wrapped in his own self-titled artwork.
With purple hair, a flowery shirt, skinny jeans, and purple combat boots, Duaiv strikes a pose next to his new ride. But things haven’t always been so flashy for the Frenchman. Born in 1952, he traveled the world in past days as a classical musician. His painting side also grew during that time. He’s known for using unique techniques to paint his masterpieces.
Besides the bespoke wrap, the Duaiv’s 2015 Aventador also sports a Novitec rear spoiler. The spoiler’s thin supports sort of mirror the thin black lines in the wrapped bodywork and almost continue the look past the sloping rear deck of the Lambo. Everything else remains stock, including the 6.5-liter V-12 making a respectable 690 horsepower and 507 pound-feet of torque.
Click past the jump to read more about the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster.
Although the first automobile built on an assembly line – the Ford Model T – is about 106 years old, the history of the self-propelled vehicle goes all the way back to 1769, when a French inventor created a steam-powered tricycle.
Revised over the next hundred year, this external combustion engine concept was eventually used by a number of U.S.-based automakers until the more efficient gasoline powered was perfected. Most steam car manufacturers are rather anonymous today, but there’s one particular name that stands out – Doble.
Founded in Detroit by Abner Doble, the said company built steam cars between 1909 through 1931, with their latter models, which used electric starters and fast firing boilers, being considered the pinnacle of steam car development.
The Doble E-20, for instance, was able to reach top speeds of up to 132 mph in 1925, matching the performance figures offered by very few internal combustion cars of that era, one of them being Duesenberg. Dobles are a very rare sight nowadays, but one very lucky E-20 model found a home in Jay Leno’s garage, where all sorts of vehicles ranging from vintage steam cars to the latest supercars are known to rest their wheels.
This episode is an awesome history lesson on Doble vehicles, as Leno not only takes the E-20 for a drive, but also explains the mechanics underneath its body. You obviously won’t get any V-8 action in this one, but it’s a piece worth watching if you’re into the more obscure side of the automotive industry.
The Mad Max series of movies are one of those unique points in the history of film and car fans. From a truly critical standpoint the movies are not that great, but for some reason all three films have garnered a dedicated following.
Perhaps it is the idea that our future could be a rough and inhospitable land filled with hooligans, miscreants, raiders, and other terrible ilk. Perhaps we as a nation built on the automotive fear what may happen if there was a true gasoline crisis.
It could just also be that there are lots of awesome cars and explosions, and hell yes we want more of that.
Whatever the case, the Mad Max universe has proved to be ripe for the picking, and there is a new video game coming for all of us to enjoy. The game is simply titled Mad Max, and thankfully it has very little to do with any movie. Rather, the game is simply set in the world of Mad Max, and Avalanche Studios has used that world as their blank canvas.
The game itself is very car heavy, and while we are sad that you don’t get to cruise around in a kitted out Ford Falcon, Avalanche has given us a pretty bad-ass car to use and modify. They call it the Magnum Opus, and West Coast Customs has built one in real life.
See the new game trailer and learn more about the WCC Magnum Opus after the jump.
Jay Leno is no stranger to odd cars. His massive warehouse garage is full of such things, and Jay is known for his daily rotation of what he drive to the NBC studios for taping his hit television show, The Tonight Show, which he will stop doing on February 17th when Jimmy Fallon takes over.
But this is Jay’s first time in an aluminum-skinned moped.
The three-wheeled trikes are built by his good friend and longtime builder Randy Grubb. Randy has tooled such things as Jay’s "tank car" and "decoliner." The design of these so-called "Decopods" are yet another original idea form his eccentric mind.
Build from a Piaggio MP3 scooter, Randy strips the trike of its plastic bodywork, lowers the seat an handlebars, and adds on his hand-crafted aluminum bodywork. The 250 cc scooter is capable of hitting 70 mph on the interstate, while keeping the rider sheltered from the wind with the plexiglass windscreen.
Considering himself an artist more than a businessman, Randy will only build six of these little art-deco wonders. He makes mention in the video above about one selling at the Barrett-Jackson auction for over $25,000, so if you’re in the market for one, you’d better save up and speak up.
More information can be found about Randy and his masterfully crazy creations at his website, RandyGrubbs.com
Click past the jump for videos on how Randy built his Art-Deco masterpieces