Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Tag

1970 Disco Spaceship Wedge Concept Car   Leave a comment



If we’re going to talk about concept cars, the Bertone Lancia Stratos HF Zero is kind of a basic bitch, pumpkin spice latte choice. Everyone knows it and everyone loves it. I don’t even care. It’s amazing and I love staring at it.

The 1970s is my favorite decade for both supercar and concept car design. I like to think of it as the era of “disco spaceship wedges,” these long, low, flat, sharp-looking machines. They’re evocative and dangerous, unlike anything on the road today. This era produced a ton of great designs, like the Lotus Esprit, Lamborghini Countach, DeLorean DMC-12 and so many others.

And those are just the ones that made it to production! The concept wedges are even cooler. Of them, the Stratos Zero may just be my favorite.


Of course, that name would be used on Lancia’s famous rally-going car a few years later, but this concept from the 1970 Turin Motor Show had little to do with that. As Autoweek tells it, the concept was a salvo in the ongoing war between Pininfarina and Bertone, conceived by the latter as an experiment to see how low they could go. (In height, not design, of course.)

The fully-functioning prototype was powered by a Lancia V4 engine pounding out a mighty 115 horsepower which sat under this crazy triangle-shaped engine cover in the middle of the car. That paltry power figure didn’t matter because the Zero was all about its razor sharp looks.

The seats were almost horizontal and the long trapezoidal windscreen gave a great view of the sky. The inside sported a futuristic instrument panel encased in green glass that reminds me of the inside of a Tesla Model S, just 40 years earlier.


If you grew up in the 1980s and early 1990s, you may remember Michael Jackson transforming into a replica of this car in the film Moonwalker. Google it, children.

The Stratos Zero got a full restoration in 2000. In 2011, it was sold by RM Auctions for about $915,000, which I think is kind of a steal considering how freaking awesome it is.






Posted February 7, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Autonomous self-driving cars are on the horizon   Leave a comment




Most auto industry experts and leaders contend that autonomous vehicles will be the norm within 25-30 years.  Self-driving cars!  This will be a game changer.  They predict the technology will lead to less accidents, more disabled (notably vision) people allowed to drive and overall a more efficient transportation system. It will cause major changes in car insurance, laws of the road and a myriad of other revolutionary paradigm shifts affecting the whole auto industry.

I Rode 500 Miles in a Self-Driving Car and Saw the Future. It’s Delightfully Dull

by Alex Davies

I was a few hours outside of Los Angeles, tooling down I-5 at the wheel of a sleek Audi A7 on a gorgeous day when a little girl in an SUV smiled and waved. I waved back.

With both hands.

This immediately freaked her out, and she started jumping up and down. All I could do was laugh, knowing my vigorous wave was in no way a safety hazard. In fact, I hadn’t touched the steering wheel in more than an hour.

What that little girl didn’t know, despite the stickers on the car, was that I was piloting Audi’s latest autonomous vehicle, a prototype designed specifically to handle the monotony of highway driving. The, er, driving was not nearly so difficult as the preparation—an arduous task that required a day of training in Arizona, a ream of paperwork and a little bureaucratic wrangling that resulted in the great state of California issuing me a license to operate an autonomous vehicle.

And so it was that I found myself riding along in the car of tomorrow on an autonomous road trip from Palo Alto, California to Las Vegas, where Audi is showing off autonomous tech that may be in showrooms by the end of the decade.

If this A7, nicknamed Jack, wasn’t advertising “Audi piloted driving” on its side, you’d never know it wasn’t just another German sedan cruising down the 5. All the gadgetry that keeps it squarely centered in its lane at precisely the speed you select is discretely incorporated into the car. It’s top-end stuff, too: six radars, three cameras, and two light detection and ranging (LIDAR) units. The computers that allow the car to analyze the road, choose the optimal path and stick to it fit neatly in the trunk. It’s remarkably smooth, maintaining a safe following distance, making smooth lane changes, and politely moving to the left to pass slower vehicles controlled by carbon-based life forms. It’s so sophisticated that I never felt anything unusual, and in fact the car is designed to reassure you that you need only grab the wheel or tap the brake to immediately resume control.

And that’s the most remarkable thing about Audi’s robo-car: All that tech recedes into the background. Driving this car is mundane, almost boring. My interaction with that little girl was the most exciting part of the trip. And Audi couldn’t be happier about that.


autonomous cars


A Baby Step into the Future

It should be said straight away that Jack was designed specifically for highway driving, which, by its nature, tends to be largely uneventful. Now, developing autonomous tech that works only on the highway may not seem impressive when you consider Google’s racked up more than 700,000 miles in its autonomous vehicles and has developed a prototype that doesn’t even have a steering wheel. It may even seem like a glorified version of adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and other semi-autonomous tech you can get on many high-end sedans these days.

But the autonomous A7 represents one of the biggest steps forward any automaker has taken toward the day when we’re all simply along for the ride. It’s a prototype, yes, but Audi says this technology will be in production cars within three to five years.




Audi, like every major automaker experimenting with autonomous driving tech, sees many hurdles—the technology, yes, but also regulatory issues, insurance questions, and consumer acceptance—that must be cleared before we have cars that drive themselves in all places at all times. So it is nibbling away at the edges, planning to introduce autonomous features one by one. It’s a slower timeline than Google’s “moonshot” approach, but one that gives everyone time to accept the technology.

“We call it a revolution by evolution. We will take it step by step, and add more functionality, add more usefulness to the system,” says Thomas Ruchatz, Audi’s head of driver assistance systems and integrated safety. Full autonomy is “not going to happen just like that,” where from one day to the next “we can travel from our doorstep to our work and we don’t have a steering wheel in the car.”

Learning Not to Drive

They don’t let just anyone behind the wheel of an autonomous car. California and Nevada—two of the four states and Washington, D.C., that have adopted regulations governing autonomous vehicles on the road—have reams of rules that must be followed. One of them dictates that anyone who gets behind the wheel must be properly trained.

For Audi, this means learning to be a better than average driver. The way Audi sees it, anyone given the responsibility of piloting this device on public roads had damned well be up to the task of taking over, because if you need to grab the wheel, the odds are something’s gone terribly amiss. A nicer way of saying this is it takes a lot of skill to be better than Audi’s robot.



When the car’s in piloted mode, a bar of LED lights below the windshield turns blue-green. It turns yellow, then red, when it’s set to shut off.


To communicate the transfer of responsibility to the autonomous system, the steering wheel retracts a few inches. It’s just far enough to make it clear you are no longer in charge, but close enough to grab if things go sideways. Because Highway Pilot is for highway driving only, the car makes it abundantly clear when you need to resume driving when, say, the highway ends or your exit approaches. Audi’s UI experts chose a combination of audio and visual alerts. Fifteen seconds before the transfer, the bluish-green LEDs turn yellow and a voice tells you autopilot will be turned off. Ten seconds before the transfer, the LEDs turn red and the steering wheel extends to meet you. If you fail to respond, the car activates its hazard lights and slows to a stop, moving to the shoulder if possible.



The A7’s trunk now holds eight PCs, which will be condensed into one unit the size of an iPad for the consumer version


Turning off piloted mode is easy: Hit the two buttons on the wheel, press the gas or brake pedal, or grab the wheel with a bit of force and you’re in control again. It’s just that fast. And it’s remarkably sophisticated—drumming your fingers on the wheel (perhaps out of boredom) doesn’t do anything, but even the slightest turn will shut off piloted mode. “We put a lot of effort into … making it feel right, so to speak,” says project leader Daniel Lipinski.

Safety and Comfort, Little by Little

Once I made peace with the fact I wasn’t in control of the car—something that took roughly four minutes—seeing that little girl freak out was the most exciting part of the drive. Frankly, autonomous vehicles are boring. That’s how it’s meant to be: Piloted driving is about safety and comfort.

Every decision the car makes comes down to two questions: Is it possible (i.e., safe and legal) and is it beneficial (i.e., does it make the ride more comfortable). Tuning the system to properly assess and balance these two things and speed up, slow down, change lanes, or make turns smoothly has been key to developing the technology. At one point during my drive, the A7 moved effortlessly into a relatively small slot in the right lane to make way for a faster car approaching from behind. It was seamless. That kind of decision-making and maneuvering is quite advanced, yet needs fine tuning before commercial production can begin. Audi’s team hasn’t yet worked through every situation the car may encounter, or settled on a balance between maintaining a steady course and making tiny adjustments to avoid every single tiny thing the sensors pick up.

As my excitement turned to boredom—I5 just goes on and on and on and on, and then you’ve got I15—it became easy to see Highway Pilot as a feature drivers will embrace. And it suggests Audi and other automakers are on the right track rolling out autonomous tech one or two features at a time. Knowing I can immediately resume control of the car, and feeling a conventional steering wheel in my hands and pedals beneath my feet, makes the transition to being chauffeured by a robot easier to embrace. It’s a more sophisticated version of the adaptive cruise control we’re already using. In that way, the A7 isn’t a self-driving car, it’s a luxury sedan that can, with my approval, make driving safer, easier and more relaxing. “Our experience is that our customer wants to accept first and understand first what they are getting, and what the limitations are as well,” says Schlinkheider. “Accept our function, and learn first how it works, and get used to it.”

A piecemeal approach also is easier for automakers, and regulators. Making one swift jump to fully autonomous driving, as Google is pursuing, requires perfecting all of the technology and considering every possible scenario. The car must know exactly what to do, everywhere, under every condition. It’s a massive undertaking, and it’s easy to see why the automakers want to take things one step at a time.




Building the Central Brain

There are other challenges to marketing this tech, not the least of which is packaging all the sensors and computers. Consumers don’t want a car that looks like it was used to rob a CompUSA. Each of the eight PCs in the back of our A7 serves a different function. They control data logging, planning a path, controlling steering, braking, and acceleration, operating the near field cameras, and fusing sensor data. When it’s time to go to market, Audi will consolidate these functions in a single computer, called the zentrale Fahrerassistenzsteuergerät, or zFAS. It’s “a central brain like the one we have in our head,” says Thomas Meuller, Audi’s head of development of braking, steering, and driver assistance systems. Two years ago, the zFAS filled the trunk. When Audi rolled into CES last year, it was a bit smaller than a shoebox. By the time Highway Pilot sees production, it will be the size of an iPad.

The car I took to Sin City hasn’t seen that downsizing in tech because it’s a research vehicle. Working with individual PCs makes it easier to tinker with the software, and this phase of development involves a whole lot of tinkering. There’s no sense in combining the parts until they’re much closer to a final product. The idea, Schlinkheider says, is “just be super flexible, try out different things. And then when it comes to series production, to the option that our customer can buy later on, that all will be running on the zFAS controller.”

After the drive from Silicon Valley to Vegas, the car feels ready for showrooms. But Audi says there’s more work to do. The rules that govern how the car adjusts its speed and position need more fine tuning, for example. The Audi team has put some 50,000 miles on the Highway Pilot feature, and will rack up many more before going public. From deer to sinkholes, highways hold a lot of potential hazards, and the system has to be prepared for them.

During my time at the wheel, I never needed to take control from the car, except to take an exit. I turned the system on and off to get a feel for how it works, but I only felt the need to grab the wheel once–and only then to accommodate the Audi camera crew in a passing car. The photographer wanted me to move into the right lane. The lane change would be safe, yes, but not beneficial, because it would put me behind a lumbering truck.

The car didn’t see the logic in that, and had no reason to oblige the photographer’s request, so I grabbed the wheel, put on my turn signal, and changed lanes. It was almost as exciting as spooking the girl in the SUV.



Google Maps is standard in Audi cars, but the autonomous A7 concept uses enhanced maps with extra info about things like turn radii.



Radars are tucked behind the body panels at each of the car’s corners.


Posted January 11, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Citroen Karin   Leave a comment


The Citroën Karin was a concept car presented at the Paris Motor Show in 1980. It featured a striking, pyramidal design and was designed by Trevor Fiore. The exterior of the car incorporated flush glass panels, faired rear wheels, and butterfly doors. The roof of the Karin was only the size of an A3 sheet of paper due to its truncated pyramid shape. One of the Karin’s most noticeable interior features was the unique three-seat layout with the driver located in the middle of the two passengers. Also among its features were a 4-cylinder engine, front wheel drive, and a hydropneumatic suspension like the Citroën DS.

I don’t know about having yappy passengers on either side of you as you drive this futuristic devil at 130 klicks.



Posted July 30, 2014 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Super Car with V-12, Jet and Rocket engines going to attempt to break 1,000 Miles Per Hour   Leave a comment


Meet Bloodhound, the British designed car aiming for the world land speed record

Wing Commander Andy Green talks about Bloodhound, the vehicle in which he hopes to shatter the land speed record by travelling at more than 1,000mph.


The British attempt to smash the world land speed record will inspire a generation of young people, according to the jet-car’s driver.

The Bloodhound project aims to design and build a vehicle capable of shattering the 1,000mph mark, leaving the current record of 763mph in its dust.

The man behind the wheel of the rocket-propelled machine – Wing Commander Andy Green from the Royal Air Force – hopes children will become scientists and mathematicians after watching him power to 1.4 times the speed of sound.

The 53-year-old former Phantom and Tornado pilot holds the record after he drove the Thrust Supersonic car to 763mph in 1997.


Powered by a Typhoon jet engine and a hybrid rocket, the RAF pilot will call on his flying experience to control the vehicle, which is much more like a fighter jet than the average saloon car.

Wg Cdr Green added: “All of the technology we have to develop, it’s not commercially sensitive, it’s not militarily sensitive, there’s no competition because there are no other Bloodhounds in the world.


Runway testing of up to 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) is scheduled to take place summer 2014. Bloodhound SSC will then be tested on the Hakskeen Pan in the Mier area of the Northern Cape, South Africa where a track 12 miles (19 km) long, 2 miles (3.2 km) wide has been cleared.

An extensive background video of how the project works, is developed, and shared with over 5500 schools and the public at large is detailed here.




The actual attempt to go faster than 1,000 mph will be at the dry lake bed in the Black Rock Desert of northeastern Nevada, known for its Burning Man festival.  Many world land speed records were broken at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.  But with the incredible speeds that are now attempted, Bonneville became too small. Black Rock has the space needed.  The Bloodhound will need 6 miles to get up to speed and another 6 miles to slow down.  If there is a brake parachute failure the vehicle will need 20 miles to stop.


To slow the vehicle, Green will deploy airbrakes at 800 mph (1,300 km/h), and subsequently parachutes at 600 mph (970 km/h), with disc brakes used below 250 mph (400 km/h). As he decelerates, experiencing forces of up to 3g, blood will drain to his feet, with a risk of driver blackout. To condition his body for these intense g-forces, he will practise in a stunt aircraft, flying upside-down over the British countryside.

A prototype Eurojet EJ200 jet engine developed for the Eurofighter and bound for a museum, was donated to the project. This will take the car to 300 mph (480 km/h), after which a bespoke hybrid rocket designed by Nammo will boost the car up to 1,000 miles per hour (1,609 km/h). A third engine, a 750 hp (560 kW) 2.4 Litre Cosworth CA2010 Formula 1 V8 petrol engine, is used as an auxiliary power unit and to drive the oxidiser pump for the rocket. The jet engine will provide nine tonnes of thrust and the rocket will add another 12. The supersonic car will have roughly the same power as 180 F1 cars.

The four 36-inch (910 mm) diameter wheels will rotate at up to 10,200 rpm and will be forged from solid aluminium to resist the 50,000 g centrifugal forces.

The hard mud surface at Black Rock is suited perfectly for the aluminum wheels.


Posted June 15, 2014 by markosun in Uncategorized

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The Ugliest Concept Cars ever Schemed up   Leave a comment


1990 Chrysler Voyager III


Here was an idea divorced from reality. Chrysler’s design team came up with a three-seater city car that could be mated to a separate rear pod enabling the Voyager III to become an eight-seater people carrier. How handy.

1993 Renault Racoon


Take a helicopter, remove the rotor blades, then fit a set of wheels attached via the most complex suspension system imaginable – and you have the Renault Racoon, which answered a question that nobody had ever asked.

1999 Honda Fuya-Jo


Shown at the 1999 Tokyo motor show, and a cross between an armoured car and a supermarket trolley, the Fuya-Jo featured a minimal glasshouse plus wheels that looked as though they’d been stolen from a Lego set.

2000 Citroen Osmose


Citroen said this was, “a bold concept which paints a vision of user-friendly vehicle design leading to a new form of relationship between pedestrians and motorists, while addressing the issue of responsible car use.” Right. Looks to us like a colourfully upholstered crate on wheels.

2001 Toyota Pod


The Pod detected its driver’s pulse and perspiration rate to relax them, by changing the colour of its lighting and wagging its tail (an antenna on the back) – which were more likely to wind the driver up than placate them.

2003 Dodge Tomahawk


It may look like a motorbike, but the Tomahawk actually featured four wheels. But who would strap themselves to a four-wheeler with the stability of a motorbike, capable of around 480 km/h (!) thanks to its 8.3-litre V10?

2005 Nissan Pivo


Ludicrously over-complex, Nissan’s engineers took everyday items from the modern car and re-engineered them at what appeared to be maximum cost, to come up with a car that could never be economically viable. Its party trick? The entire cabin pod was is capable of swiveling around preventing the need for the car to be reversed.

2005 Rinspeed Senso


The Senso took into account the driver’s pulse and driving behaviour, then adjusted the music, interior lighting and even the fragrances to suit. As a result, it could soothe a frustrated driver or pep up a tired one.

2006 Venturi Eclectic


A concept so far removed from reality that it was in another galaxy; the Eclectic produced its own power, with in-built solar panels and a wind turbine. The problem was, it couldn’t generate enough power to be truly usable.

2008 Assystem City Car


Built in conjunction with crazy Swiss car builder Franco Sbarro, the Assystem was billed as “an intelligent city car”. But that diamond wheel formation guaranteed an ugly body shell – and this car redefined the word ugly.

2009 Renault Twizy


Renault claimed this was the future of urban transport when unveiled late in 2009. The idea of a nippy, zero-emissions city car is appealing, but let’s hope Renault’s designers take their blindfolds off when doing the production version.


Posted April 17, 2014 by markosun in Uncategorized

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U.S. Presidential Limousine has very thick doors   Leave a comment

Obama’s car door versus David Cameron’s (British PM)

obama limo door

The current presidential limousine entered service on January 20, 2009. According to the manufacturer, General Motors, the 2009 presidential limousine, based on the Cadillac DTS, is the first not to carry a specific model name. The vehicle’s outward appearance carries many current Cadillac styling themes, but does not resemble any particular production vehicle. The body itself seems to be a modification of the immediately previous DTS-badged Presidential limousines, but the vehicle’s chassis and driveline are sourced from the Chevrolet Kodiak commercial truck. Many body components are sourced from a variety of Cadillac vehicles; for example, the car uses Cadillac Escalade headlights, side mirrors and door handles. The tail of the car seems to use the taillights and back up lights from the Cadillac STS sedan. Although a price tag has not been announced, each limousine is assumed to cost US$300,000.

obama limo1

The Secret Service refers to the heavily armored vehicle as The Beast. Most details of the car are classified for security reasons. A special night vision system is in a secret location. Special loops replace the stock door handles; agents hold on to them when running alongside the car. Goodyear run-flat tires fit into extra-large wheel wells. The car is sealed against biochemical attacks. Kept in the trunk is a blood bank of the President’s blood type. It also has its own oxygen supply.

The car can seat seven people, including the President. The front seats two, and includes a console-mounted communications center. A glass partition divides the front from back. Three rear-facing seats are in the back, with cushions that are able to fold over the partition. The two rear seats are reserved for the president and another passenger; these seats have the ability to recline individually. A folding desk is between the two rear seats. Storage compartments in the interior panels of the car contain communications equipment which is called the Limousine Control Package and is operated by the White House Communications Agency. This is the voice and data device that links the vehicle to the WHCA Roadrunner at the rear of the motorcade allowing command and control (or “C2”) functions to be performed from the limo. The trunk lid has five antennas. The car is driven by a specially trained Secret Service agent who is capable of performing a J-turn. The President’s lead protective agent usually sits in the front passenger seat.

On domestic trips, vehicles carrying the president display the American and Presidential Standard flags, which are illuminated by directional flood lights mounted on the hood. When the President performs a state visit to a foreign country, the Presidential Standard is replaced by the foreign country’s flag. The limousine is airlifted for domestic and international use primarily by a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III.

The vehicle fuel efficiency is about 8 miles per US gallon (29 L/100 km; 9.6 mpg-imp).

The United States government also operates similarly designed limousines for VIP guests, visiting heads of government, and heads of state.

Obama limousine_in_2009_inaugural_parade

The 2009 limousine makes its debut in the 2009 inaugural parade, guarded by Secret Service agents. Behind it are the two backup 2005 limousines previously used by President George W. Bush.

obama limo

On both domestic and foreign trips, the limousine is transported in a C-17 Globemaster III.

Posted March 28, 2014 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Rainbow Taxi Fleet   2 comments

Amusing Planet

Unlike the rest of the world, where taxis are usually yellow and black, Bangkok’s taxis come in a full range of colors. There are pink taxis, orange taxis, purple taxis, green taxes, yellow taxis and taxis in various combinations. While taxi color in other countries signify nothing in particular, Bangkok’s taxis are actually color coded. The single-color are company taxis, personal taxis in cooperation or alliance and rental company taxis. These color include bright green, bright sky blue, red, orange, yellow, blue, pink, purple, violet and tan. The bi-colored taxis are in 3 kinds including yellow-green, red-blue and yellow-orange. The yellow-green are the personal private taxi. The red-blue are the rental taxi. The yellow-orange are the company taxi. Taxis are abundant in Bangkok so you can pick any color you like, but the yellow-green taxis are generally reckoned to be better, being owned and driven by the owners themselves.







Traffic more or less looks like a free for all


Things you are not allowed to do or bring in a taxi

Bangkok’s colored transportation isn’t limited to just taxis; the buses are colored too and each color signify a different fare, route, ownership and whether or not it has air-conditioning. The non-air conditioned regular buses are colored a combination of red and cream. These are operated by Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) and are the cheapest bus service in the city. With the air pollution and heat in Bangkok, traveling on these buses can be a trying experience, especially during daytime and rush hours. The white-blue color buses are no better – non-air conditioned – and the fares are slightly higher.


The cream-blue color air-conditioned buses, also operated by the BMTA, are slightly more convenient than the regular buses. The yellow-orange color Euro II buses are also air-conditioned and relatively new. Purple or red colored are micro-buses that are privately owned and offers an alternative bus service to the population. They are air-conditioned, have a fixed fare regardless of the distance travelled and only stops if there are still vacant seats available, so every passenger is guaranteed a seat.


Posted March 26, 2014 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Car Racetrack on the roof!   Leave a comment


Lingotto is a district of Turin, Italy, and the location of the Lingotto building in Via Nizza. This building once housed an automobile factory built by Fiat. Construction started in 1916 and the building opened in 1923. The design (by young architect Matté Trucco) was unusual in that it had five floors, with raw materials going in at the ground floor, and cars built on a line that went up through the building. Finished cars emerged at rooftop level, where there was a rooftop test track. It was the largest car factory in the world at that time. For its time, the Lingotto building was avante-garde, influential and impressive—Le Corbusier called it “one of the most impressive sights in industry”, and “a guideline for town planning”. 80 different models of car were produced there in its lifetime, including the Fiat Topolino of 1936.


The factory became outmoded in the 1970s and the decision was made to finally close it in 1982. The closure of the plant led to much public debate about its future, and how to recover from industrial decline in general. An architectural competition was held, which was eventually awarded to Renzo Piano, who envisioned an exciting public space for the city. The old factory was rebuilt into a modern complex, with concert halls, theatre, a convention centre, shopping arcades and a hotel. The eastern portion of the building is the headquarter of the Automotive Engineering faculty of the Polytechnic University of Turin. The work was completed in 1989. The track was retained, and can still be visited today on the top floor of the shopping mall and hotel.




Ramps leading up to the roof




Posted February 28, 2014 by markosun in Uncategorized

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American Supercar Takes Title of ‘World’s Fastest’ From Bugatti   1 comment



The Hennessey Venom GT has set a speed record for a production car after hitting 270.49 mph on the space shuttle’s landing strip. At that speed, former race driver Brian Smith was covering nearly 400 feet per second while eclipsing the previous record of 268.86 mph held by the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

John Hennessey is a Texas boutique builder who believes that if more is better, too much is almost enough. The superlative Venom GT is a 1,244-horsepower monster fashioned by stretching a Lotus Exige, then stuffing it with a 7.0-liter Corvette ZR-1 engine with a pair of turbochargers. For those looking to own this kind of insanity, a Venom GT starts at $1.2 million.

That price is a bargain compared to Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport, the other supercar in the ongoing race for the top speed record. Hennessey and Bugatti have been competing for years, with bragging rights going back and forth between their headquarters in Houston and Alsace, France. This latest round occurred on Valentine’s Day, when Hennessey’s crew and the independent speed recorders from Racelogic descended on the 3.2-mile landing strip at Cape Canaveral. By the end of the day, Smith had made a GPS-verified run of 270.49 mph (435.31 km/hr).

Hennessey’s data indicates the car was still accelerating at 1 mph per second, according to Car & Driver, and Smith said he could go faster still “if we could run on an eight-mile oval.” That’s a dig at Bugatti, which set its record on Volkswagen’s test track in Germany.



Hennessey Performance Engineering is an American tuning house specializing in modifying sports and super cars from several brands like Ferrari, Porsche, McLaren, Chevrolet, Dodge, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Nissan, Mustang, Cadillac, Lotus, Jeep, Ford, BMW, Bentley, Chrysler, Corvette, GMC, Lincoln and Lexus. Established in 1991 by John Hennessey, their main facility is located west of Houston, Texas. This firm focuses on mechanical component modification for creating high-powered cars. Besides performance automobiles, they also tune sport utility vehicles such as Ford Raptors and Jeep Cherokees. They also work on luxury cars like Bentleys and muscle cars like Dodge Charger and Challenger, for example.


Posted February 26, 2014 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Got a thick wallet, and like to drive over hells half acre, here are some vehicles you could use   Leave a comment



Five military trucks you can buy … and one you can’t



Land Rover Defender                           

Country of origin: Britain

Briefing: Like the scrappy military transport that would become the Jeep Wrangler, the Land Rover Defender has evolved over its 65-year history, but has never jettisoned an ounce of capability. Available in hard-top, double-cab, pickup and bare-chassis configurations, the Defender is found around the globe, with some 55,000 units in active military service.

Price (Britain, exclusive of VAT): From £21,415 (approximately $34,500)



Renault Sherpa                           

Country of origin: France

Briefing: Renault’s mighty Sherpa owes its appeal not only to the olive drab versions piloted by French and NATO soldiers, but to the charismatic appearances of the civilian model in the grueling Dakar Rally. Available by special order in Russia, Africa and the Middle East, the non-military Sherpa can be had as an unarmoured station wagon or pickup, or, for war-zone duty, a fully-armoured wagon. Power comes from a deafening 4.76-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. Its 215hp and 590lb-ft of torque reach all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

Price (UAE): Approximately 1m dirham ($272,000)



GAZ Tigr                           

Country of origin: Russia

Briefing: That the military Tigr bears a passing resemblance to the American Humvee is, to the Russian truck’s vociferous fans, nothing more than coincidence. Beneath its expansive hood rumbles a 5.9-litre diesel engine, which meets a six-speed manual transmission and permanent four-wheel-drive. Production of the civilian Tigr – which can soften its brutality with the addition of such creature comforts as leather, air conditioning and a thumping audio system – is hardly a top priority for GAZ, and acquiring one is neither simple nor inexpensive, but a successful buyer is fairly guaranteed to be the only Tigr-tamer in his okrestnosti.

Price (Russia): approximately 3.5m rubles ($110,000)


Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6 Showcar, Dubai 2013~

Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6                           

Country of origin: Austria

Briefing: As production vehicles go, the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen, otherwise known as the G Class, is ancient. Merely revised during more than 30 years of production, this bricklike military machine in a civilian paintjob still manages to capture the imagination of those who dream of traffic parting with their approach – business tycoons, action-film stars, the Pope. Like the “standard” G63 AMG, the new G63 AMG 6×6 packs a twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 engine producing 536hp and 560lb-ft of torque. The engine meets the six-by-six drivetrain from Mercedes’ hulking Zetros truck, yielding 15.75in of ground clearance – sufficient to ford water as deep as 40in. Getting behind the wheel of this ultimate G Class, unless you happen to be, say, a James Bond villain, will be tricky. The vehicle is not (legally) destined for North America or right-hand-drive countries, and Mercedes has promised that production volume will be “very small”.

Price (Germany, exclusive of VAT): 379,000 euros (approximately $523,000) VAT- Value Added Tax

Price (Russia): approximately 3.5m rubles ($110,000)

Price (UAE): Approximately 1m dirham ($272,000)

Price (Britain, exclusive of VAT): From £21,415 (approximately $34,500)



Paramount Marauder                           

Country of origin: South Africa

Briefing: Ten tonnes of South African stoutness, the Marauder is possessed of a double-skin monocoque that helps it resist virtually all forms of light-arms fire, as well as the occasional anti-tank mine. It also, as Top Gear’s Richard Hammond learned,  is rather good as a city runabout – provided the pilot steers clear of fast-food drive-throughs.

Price: $485,000



Oshkosh L-ATV

Country of origin: United States

Briefing: How to replace a fleet of aging Humvees that numbers in the tens of thousands? With a bit of technological derring-do. Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense has developed the L-ATV prototype to pick up where the Humvee has left off, carrying a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain that allows the purpose-built vehicle to run near-silent when missions require it. The US government has taken delivery of 22 L-ATV prototypes for testing, but civilian sales do not figure in Oshkosh’s immediate product plans.

Price: N/A





Posted October 29, 2013 by markosun in Uncategorized

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