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Monday, May 11, 2015

Now Here’s an Autonomous Car I Can Get Behind

Sam Schmidt driving the SAM 2.0 car during the final road course
engineering test drive in Morrison Colorado on March 13, 2015.
(Photo: Business Wire)
There’s been a lot of talk about autonomous cars over the past few years. Some people think they can’t bring them on soon enough, others aren’t so sure. While I’m all in favour of safety features and collision avoidance, I wonder if the self-driving car will soon mean the only place people will be allowed to drive will be on the racetrack. Or that only the well-heeled will be able to afford them. On the other hand, it could mean people who can’t now drive, can once more enjoy the independence of their own car. That’s what the Arrow Electronics Semi-Autonomous Motorcar (SAM) Project is about.

The SAM 2.0 car is a 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray modified to allow a quadriplegic to drive it. How cool is that? Former IndyCar Driver Sam Schmidt, paralyzed in a racing accident back in 2000, took it for a spin on the Long Beach Grand Prix track recently. Last year he demonstrated the car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, driving fast enough to qualify for the Indy 500.

“Racing has been a dream of mine since I was five years old,” said Schmidt. “I thought I would never be able to drive again after my accident, but this vehicle makes it possible for me to improve every time I am on the track. When I drive the SAM Car, I feel a sense of normalcy. The latest modifications in SAM Car 2.0 allowed me to make sharp right and left turns, as well as synchronize my acceleration and braking more precisely.”

How does it work? It uses infrared cameras connected to sensors on Schmidt’s hat, so he can steer by tilting his head. Brakes and accelerator are controlled by sucking or blowing into a tube with an attached pressure sensor. GPS keeps the car away from the edge of the track. There’s also a computer to keep track of everything. While it would obviously take some getting used to, it seems to work remarkably well.

You can find out more about the SAM Project HERE. I like the fact that they’ve chosen a sports car to modify—not everyone wants to drive a van!

[SOURCE: Businesswire]

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Time to Get Your Toys Out of the Garage

It’s finally spring. To celebrate, I’ve put up pages for this year’s cruise nights and for next month’s car shows—links are on the right. I’ll be updating the other months as they get closer.

There are a few cruise nights starting this Friday, including the big one up in Laval. Good news for those of us in the West Island is that Smoke Meat Pete will not only be continuing their Monday night car cruise this year, but they’ll be doing a bike afternoon on Sundays as well.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thinking About Doing Targa Newfoundland? Check This Out First

The following article by a couple of competitors from last year’s Targa showed up on my Facebook page, so I thought I’d pass it on.

I love the picture of their car at the Timmy’s drive through.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Andrews Car Collection Up for Grabs

There’s an upcoming auction next weekend that looks interesting. RM Sotheby’s will be selling off the Paul & Chris Andrews car collection in Fort Worth, Texas on May 2. You can get an idea from the video (link HERE in case it won’t play for you) what a fantastic collection it is. Apparently it includes 78 vehicles, all going without reserve.

“The Andrews Collection is one of the most unique and comprehensive collections we've ever had the privilege of offering,” says Ian Kelleher, Specialist, RM Sotheby's. “A fantastic reflection of a father and son's shared passions, the sale has attracted tremendous early interest, which we expect will translate into spirited bidding come auction day.”

No, that’s not just hype. Among the collection are a 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet by Pininfarina, the 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Town Car with body by Bohman & Schwartz, and a 1962 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra, all of which appear in the video.

The Andrews aren’t getting out of car collecting entirely, they just want to pare their collection down so they can enjoy driving the ones they have. Which makes me wonder. If these are the cars they’re getting rid of, what are they keeping?

From Dandelions to Tires: Continental Tire Announces New Rubber Source

Photo: © Monika 3 Steps Ahead/, Continental AG
In an appropriately Earth Day themed release, tire manufacturer Continental showed off tires sourced from dandelions at the SAE World Congress in Detroit earlier this week. They’ve been looking for a more sustainable, environmentally friendly raw material for rubber and found it in dandelion roots. Remembering back to my childhood and how the sticky sap used to get all over my hands when I picked a bouquet of the yellow flowers, it makes perfect sense.

According to Dr. Peter Zmolek, Continental Tire the Americas Director of Research and Development, “Continental's use of dandelion roots to make rubber brings us one step closer to reaching our goal of making tire production more sustainable and less dependent on traditional raw materials.” The project has been carried out at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology at the University of Munster, Germany. The resulting dandelion rubber has been dubbed “Taraxagum” after taraxacum, the botanical name for dandelion.

“The use of dandelion rubber can shorten transport routes to our production sites around the world and enable the growing global demand for rubber to be met without sacrificing more precious areas of rainforest,” said Zmolek. “Both these factors will have a positive, sustainable effect on the world's carbon footprint and on bio-diversity.”

Does that mean the dandelion crop in your front yard is now worth cultivating? Unfortunately, no. The dandelion used by Continental is a specific variety known as the Russian dandelion, which produces more rubber than the common weed.

For more information, check out

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Historic Vehicle Association Adds First Mercedes-Benz Type 300 SL Sold in America to its National Historic Vehicle Register

Okay, you might be wondering why a German car has been added to an American list, but there’s definitely an American connection. In fact, without US Mercedes-Benz distributor Max Hoffman, the 300 SL would never have seen production. We might not have an SL class today.

This particular 1954 300 SL, serial number 198 040 4500003, was the first one sold in America, to Hoffman’s customer and racer Briggs Cunningham. He took it to the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Concours that year, where it took first in the sports car class. It wasn’t just pretty, though. It also had a career in racing and even hill climbing.

Watch the video for lots of great footage and a discussion of what makes the 300 SL so special—and no, it’s not just the gullwing doors. Among other things, it was the first car to have fuel injection. You can also find photos of the car HERE.

[SOURCE: Historic Vehicle Association]

Friday, April 3, 2015

Classic & Sports Car Magazine Introduces New London Show

London, England, that is, and it’s happening from October 30th to November 1st. Not coincidentally, that’s the same weekend as the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and Regent Street Motor Show, so if you ever wanted to do England and see classic cars, start planning now. Tickets go on sale June 1st.

According to the press release, they’ll be showing off 300 or so “of the world’s rarest and most valuable classic cars.” You can only see one in the promotional video on the magazine’s website, a Jaguar XJSS, but if that’s any sample of what’s in store, it should be fantastic. Unlike the promo video, which I found really dull. Do check out their YouTube channel though, where there are lots of interesting videos, including the one below.

[SOURCE Classic & Sports Car]