Perhaps if it was published somewhere else it might have been dismissed as a libertarian rant, but an article in the New York Times about police abuse of civil forfeiture laws, where innocent property owners face the task of proving that their property hasn’t been used illegally (something that seems at odds with the American concept of innocent until proven guilty) is getting a lot of attention. Video of seminars teaching cops and prosecutors how to seize private property have surfaced and they make it seem like law enforcement is less concerned with, well, law enforcement than they are with taking your stuff. Instructions like, “If in doubt… take it!” don’t make it seem like justice is a concern. What was intended by legislators as a means to go after the tools of illegal trades has become a method of padding budgets, buying cop toys and, in what would surely be seen by prosecutors as at the very least a conflict of interest if it was in the private sector, paying the salaries of prosecutors who handle civil forfeiture cases. The Times story revels disturbing practices like wish lists of property to be seized. High on the lists are cars. Can you prove that your car wasn’t used for a crime? The government wins 96% of civil forfeiture cases. (Read More…)
Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber
Jalopnik’s second annual exhibition of films and videos with automotive themes opened in Manhattan this past week. A film festival concerning cars is a great idea and not only does The Truth About Cars salute Jalopnik for establishing and continuing such an enterprise, TTAC had a small role, no pun intended, in the selection of the festival’s films this year.
If you go to enough museums and car shows around Detroit, sooner or later you’ll get to see the Mustang I concept of 1962, normally on display at the Henry Ford Museum’s Driving America exhibit, and the Mustang II concept of 1963, which is owned by the Detroit Historical Museum. For example, the Mustang I was part of Ford’s display at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. Though the Historical Museum’s building doesn’t have much space for car displays, its own proto-Mustang is frequently loaned out and just a few weeks before these photos were taken, the car was on display in Flint at the Sloan Museum’s Auto Fair. Since I’ve shot the Mustang II concept a couple of times before, when I was at the Sloan show, I didn’t bother taking any photos of it that day. However, because the two cars are owned by different institutions, getting a chance to see and photograph both of the first two Mustang concept cars together is a rare thing. Getting to see both of those cars together, along with an early short wheelbase two seat Mustang show car that Ford adopted and renamed the Mustang III, may have been a unique experience. The “shorty” Mustang III only started being shown again, after almost a half century, in 2013, so this may well have been the first time these three cars were displayed together. (Read More…)
Brian Saylor has managed to combine two of his passions, old trucks and Texaco memorabilia. You can see him at Detroit area car shows with his Texaco trucks, Texaco gasoline pump and assorted Texaco merchandise, with Saylor dressed in the uniform that Texaco service station employees would have worn a couple of generations ago. Yes, Virginia, there was a time when gas station employees wore uniforms and they actually serviced your car. They even sang songs about them. Okay, so they were advertising jingles, but I bet most Americans over the age of 50 recognize, “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star, the big bright Texaco star.”
In it’s third quarter letter to investors, Tesla Motors announced that they are pushing back the start of production of their falcon-winged Model X crossover again, this time until the third quarter of 2015. This is the third time that production has been delayed for the Model X, which Elon Musk originally promised for 2013. That was subsequently pushed back to this year, then to late this year and now delayed again. Tesla put a good face on the delay, characterizing it as “a few months”, and attributing the later production start to more extensive validation testing, wanting to “delight customers” when the Model X does start deliveries.
Just about all of my daily drivers have been stock, more or less. I did some engine, transmission and overdrive swaps on Volvos back in the 1980s, but everything was factory, if not on that particular vehicle when it left Goteborg. Also, there was a 1972 VW bus for which I built a high-performance Beetle *engine so it could cruise at fast enough speeds to be safe on the interstates. Other than those, I haven’t done any mechanical modifications to cars that I’ve driven regularly, at least not to the chassis, but now I’m taking the plunge. (Read More…)
Still pretty spry and sharp in his 80s, Bruce Thompson remembers his first ride in a Model A. It would have been 1931 or 1932. He thinks he was four or five years old. A neighbor took him and his brother for a ride. “Fifty miles an hour! I thought that was unbelievable. It was very exciting,” he told me, his eyes lighting up as he remembered. In 1967 he bought his own Model A, a 1930 edition, from the original owner for just $750 dollars. That’s right, it’s a two owner 84 year old car in original condition. It has only about 24,000 miles on the odometer and Bruce still drives it, though not as regularly as he once did. (Read More…)
In my day job I happen to do work for a number of car and motorcycle clubs. Some of the officers have become friends and they know about my side gig writing about cars and car culture. Last year, in the early spring, my buddy Tony, who’s the prez of the Motor City Camaro and Firebird Car Club, told me that the first car show of the year was being held at a Kmart parking lot near Eight Mile and Telegraph. It ended up being a worthwhile visit. There were some interesting cars and I even got a TTAC post about donks and low riders out of it. When Tony recently told me about the last car show of the year, being held in another shopping center parking lot, also near Eight Mile Road, this one by Van Dyke, I figured that he hasn’t steered me wrong yet, so I drove over to the east side of town. (Read More…)
The most recent news out of the Elio Motors will provide grist for the rhetorical mills of both skeptics and enthusiasts of the startup car company. As we anticipated in our most recent post about Elio, the company has applied for a loan from the U.S. Department of Energy’s newly revived Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program. Though Congress had allocated $25 billion for the ATVM loans, less than half was disbursed before the program was put on hiatus in the wake of the failure of Fisker, which had been granted about half a billion dollars in loan guarantees. Elio Motors announced that it will be seeking a loand of $185 million to “accelerate the company’s plans to begin production” of their enclosed tandem reverse trike next year.
The Elio Motors project continues to generate skepticism. The latest is a post by Tavarish at Jalopnik’s CarBuying Kinja subsite giving us a half dozen reasons while the high mpg reverse trike will never come to be, Six Things That Could Kill Elio Motors Before It Even Launches. Tavarish isn’t the only skeptic. The consensus among automotive writers seems to be highly critical. While I enjoy being a contrarian and going against the stream I still don’t want to be a cheerleader for Paul Elio and his team, but I have to confess that there’s romance in the idea of someone starting their own car company. I also think that there is no reason short of raising enough money why they can’t put the car into production and meet their performance and safety specifications. I’m not so sure about Elio Motors meeting their $6,800 price point but I still don’t think the latest criticism is completely fair. (Read More…)