Things Cars Ought to Have… But Don’t

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I’ve ranted about stuff new cars come with that seem over-the-top, unnecessary – stupid, even. The obnoxious back-up buzzer in the Toyota Prius hybrid, for instance. Headlights that stay on all the time, even in bright July daylight  – and which you can’t turn off.wish list pic

But how about stuff cars ought to have – or at least, offer?

* Ceramic electric warm-up heaters –

One of the things that makes winter miserable is a cold car. It takes a few minutes, at least, for the engine to produce enough heat to warm up the car’s interior (and de-ice the exterior glass). How about an auxiliary ceramic-electric heater to bridge the gap? Instant-on heat! It works in the bathroom – why not in the car?

You can already buy one of these small/portable units and – using the cigarette lighter outlet – get some warmth in your car right now… instead of 5-10 minutes from now. But why hasn’t any car company thought to offer one in the car, integrated and ready to provide some BTUs at the touch of a button? It ought to be doable. Modern cars have powerful electric systems and running an electric heater for the couple of minutes it takes before the engine is warmed up and can take over ought not to stress the system much.heater 2

So why not? At least, not yet? Probably because no one’s thought about it much. Here’s to hoping they will.


* Mini-microwave –

Cupholders have become one of the single most important design aspects of new cars to many people – because so many people spend so much time in their cars.

Drinking coffee – and eating.

But coffee – and food – gets cold. The solution? A small microwave, built into the car. Why not? Several new cars already come with factory-installed ‘fridges. The fact is cars have become less about driving than enduring a long drive. The focus is less and less about how aggressively a car can corner and more and more about how quiet and comfortable it is. The autonomous, self-driving car is on the cusp of mass-market reality. Many new cars already have built-in Wi-Fi. The next logical step is a way to nuke your coffee in between A and coffee pic

Cue Captain Picard. Make it so!

* Wing vent windows –

Many new cars have a fixed-in-place section of glass just ahead of the front door glass. In the past, this section of glass was not fixed in place. The driver could rotate the glass open, which deflected outside air into the car, cooling the car without the need for AC.

This is an idea that ought to be resurrected.

Most people can’t live without AC – because it’s impossible to keep cool without it. And rolling down the window doesn’t work because it doesn’t direct airflow where it’s helpful. Instead, it just musses your hair.

Wing vent windows let in just enough air – and the flow can be directed just right.

You’d think this would be a no-brainer, given the lengths to which the car companies are willing to go to eke out a fraction of a mile-per-gallon here and another fraction of a mile per gallon there. Cylinder deactivation. Auto-stop. Direct injection. Aluminum bodies. All expensive as hell – for very little gain.wing vents pic

Wing vent windows, meanwhile, could be done on the cheap. And would make it feasible to offer cars without AC – and thereby lose the weight of the AC components, as well as the drag on the engine – which would save more than a fraction of a mile-per-gallon.

But, there’s less profit in selling cars sans AC – and that may be the reason why no one’s offering a new car with an alternative to AC.

* Diesel hybrids –

Ever notice that most heavy-duty back-up generators are diesel-powered? The reasons being: The generator runs longer on diesel than it would on gas. Diesel engines are also by design at their most efficient operating at low RPM, which increases economy of operation (as well as reduces noise). They’re tough and durable, too.

Keep in mind that the IC engine (whether gas or diesel) in a hybrid serves both to propel the car and to act as a generator – producing electricity to keep the hybrid’s battery pack charged up. A diesel engine would provide the inherent fuel economy advantages of diesel power and would be ideal (or at least, more ideal than a gas engine) to serve as an onboard generator for the electric side of the hybrid powertrain. And – bonus – a diesel hybrid could – at least in theory – be designed to burn bio-diesel fuel. Which is both renewable and cheap (compared with at-the-pump diesel).78. Automobil-Salon in Genf 2008

So, why aren’t any hybrids diesel-powered? Probably, the main reason is cost. Diesel engines are more expensive to make (and so, cost more to buy) than gas engines. Hybrids already cost more to buy than an otherwise equivalent gas-engined car. If a diesel-powered hybrid cost say another 10 percent more, it might be harder to convince people to buy them – notwithstanding all the very real advantages just discussed.

Especially now that gas is selling for under three bucks a gallon again.

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  1. So this is what they’re sending me now.
    – How old are you, 28? – 27.

    What the hell you doing here, Joe Blake?

    I want my country back, sir.

    You want it back? You never had it.


    You were still sucking your thumb when they dropped the bomb. This shit hole’s the only country you’ve ever known.

    Well, my father told me what it was like, before the war.

    – Your father, huh?

    – He said every man was free.

    How do I know you’re not a spy?

    – A spy?

    – The resistance what’s left of it is shot through with them.
    Half my friends are dead. Guess that’s why they’re down to kids like you.

    I’m not a spy.

    You know what those brownshirts out there would do if they caught you?

    I’m not afraid to die.

    Me, either. Might be a relief, actually. But how you feel about pain?

    – Pain?

    – Yeah. When they’re plucking your fingernails out one by one, or they’re cracking your balls open like walnuts. That’s when maybe you stop caring about what your old man said and tell Johnny Jackboot out there my name, or just about anything else he wants.

    You’re so afraid, why are you here?

    I fought in the war, kid. I saw my buddies’ brains get blown out on Virginia Beach. You You’re just a punk who could get me caught.

    Yeah, I guess I’m afraid of pain. I don’t have any buddies who died in the war. I don’t really know what freedom is.
    But I’m not a punk and I’m not a spy, Mr. Warren. I’m here because I want to do the right thing. So you gonna give me the job or not?

    You take the autobahn across the Reich. You stop here, Canon City.

    That’s the neutral zone.

    Wow, he can read a map too, huh?

    – What am I gonna do there?

    – You wait.

    Your contact will approach you when and if he determines it’s safe.

    And if he doesn’t?

    Nazis are onto you. You’re dead.

    – What’s this? – Benzedrine.

    You get sleepy on the road, you pop a couple of those.
    – No stopping.


    TMITHC MP4s and FLVs

    The Man in the High Castle (TV series)

    an American dystopian alternate history television series produced by Amazon Studios.

    The series is based on the 1962 novel of the same name by American science fiction author Philip K. Dick.

    The story is an alternate history of the world in which the Axis powers won World War II. The United States has been partitioned into three parts: The Japanese puppet state of the Pacific States of America, which comprises the former United States west of the Rocky Mountains; a Nazi puppet state that comprises the eastern half of the former United States; and a neutral zone that acts as a buffer between the two areas, called the Rocky Mountain States.

    The pilot was Amazon’s most-watched. The series was picked up for a ten-episode season which were released November 20, 2015.

  2. [inspiring music] It’s a new day.
    The sun rises in the east.

    Across our land, men and women go to work in factories and farms Providing for their families.

    Everyone has a job.

    Everyone knows the part they play keeping our country strong and safe.

    So today, we give thanks to our brave leaders, knowing we are stronger and prouder, and better.

    [Cheerful music] Yes, it’s a new day in our proud land.
    But our greatest days, they lie ahead.

    Seig heil.

    The Man in the High Castle (2015) Episode Scripts


  3. Chairman Bevin,

    It was good to hear from you. Your recommendation of “The Woman Nikita” was spot on. And it’s humbling to be around someone with such precise command of English semantics and surgical prowess and practice used in the development and exposition of such complex themes and ideas.

    The Man In the High Castle – Opening Title Sequence

    Nazi-American Police in The Man in the High Castle Pilot

    RIP America (Born 1776 – and Died 2001).

    Blossoms of Yooper snow. May you bloom and grow. Bloom and grow forever. Edelweiss, edelweiss. Bless my homeland forever.

  4. Not sure how to broach this. But films like Hunger Games, and Divergent might be important primers for many young girls growing up today.

    I’m half the MAN my Dad was, boys of young adult women’s generations are half the MAN I am.

    My sense is, when the going gets tough, you’ll need to be ready to abandon the luxuries of expecting respect and good treatment from strangers you’ve grown dependent on.

    When data companies tell Logan to run. He’s gonna say “how far.” Or at least you have to prepare strategy for games where men completely abandoned even the shadow alpha chivalry protocols that still exist today.

    Boys today have little in common with the kinds of guys on here.

    If we have 8 south. Then consider me 4 south. Half of his rank. That makes boys 2 south. And not long from now, we’ll be awash in 1 south and half south men.

    It’s gonna be whole different kind of rodeo, fairly soon, I’m starting to suspect.

    8 Stewie and young 1/2 Stewie with 8 Brian and young 1/2 Brian

    And remember the same 10th amendment in the hands of the 8 Morlocks and 1/2 Morlocks lording over the 8 Elois and the 1/2 Elois is whole different thing entirely.

    Cringingly, unfathomably different, I’m afraid.

      • Gag.

        What creeps me out most, though, is the way it’s not just a job anymore. In corporate America, you job is your life. Look at all the happy team members, playing games with one another on the campus. Bring your dog to work, even.

        Make me want to run screaming into the woods.

        • That’s always been the goal.
          Fordlandia, Pullman, and others. They failed because people still had a choice. The corporate global state means no choice.

        • Eric,

          Forgot to add: Reason why doing these things for happy employees — Happy employees are more productive.


          Those links were chilling and ominous looks at the future (present?). In many ways, people of the past were more free than today. Perhaps they do not have many of the conveniences and luxuries of today, but they (in general) were able to live their lives in (relative) peace without interference from others.

          • They truly are, and I deeply appreciate hearing your take, Sir MITHR(Man In The High Rook)

            I had a cop come chase me home and talk to my Moms when I was 3 for being in a rock fight.

            I don’t think I ever encountered another one, until a hero poured out all us highschooler’s beer when caught swimming at some country club swimming pool long after midnight.

            I recall doing a lot of things that today would warrant far more such overlord encounters, or far worse.

            Another term for conveniences and luxuries might be crutches and optional prosthetics(nearly required so we can function) in this altered reality we’ve come to think as being best and only possible mode of existence.

    • Morning, Tor.

      Not all of them (boys today). But yes, many of them.

      Boys need men to learn to become men. And men and manliness have been systematically undermined for at least a generation now.

      Because weak men allowed it.

      • People accepted the government running the schools. The men that control and run government don’t want competition. Women dominate the boots on the ground in the grade schools. The ideal government school student is a compliant, quiet, little girl.

        They see which boys might be trouble in adulthood early on. The boys don’t understand the game they are in. It was bad enough three decades ago. Today they use drugs and more.

        What we are experiencing is from design. Most men don’t even know what’s being done. They don’t read education papers. They don’t attend the conferences. They don’t read the stuff that the people who do understand point to. They don’t know what’s happening. If it happened all at once they would have. But it’s been slow. Over a hundred years now.

        The attack is started on five year old boys. Sometimes sooner. It’s not weak men that allow it, it’s children who don’t even understand the game.

  5. I have always thought a 110 volt “battery/Starter” would be a good addition. The ability to plug in your car with an extension cord for a jump start. Without need to shuffle two cars around (if you are at home) or beg a stranger/carry around a jump start battery (if you are out)

    • Wow, Scott- that is an excellent idea! It would be so simple, too (Well…I guess they would never implement then- they seem to only do complex…) and what would it add to the cost of a car, $1?

      That would even be a great idea for an after-market item…..

    • I’ll agree that’s a good idea, but it would require a transformer from 110V 10 amps to 12V 500 amps. But how often would you use this unless your battery’s already crapped out? The cost might as well be borne out in purchasing a jump starter.

      BTW – I always wondered how the hell you yanks achieve anything with only 110V.. 😉

      • RE: “a transformer from 110V 10 amps to 12V 500 amps”

        Dang. For a second there I thought you guys were talking about Which resistor is required to shut off the light in the dashboard after some criminal stole your airbag.

        • …there is another way…that would not involve the use of a “transformer”…the starter motor could have a 110 volt motor “piggybacked” on the back of the 12 volt starter motor…thus, either 12 volts (normal starting) could be used to start the car; in case of a battery failure, a “plug-in” (110 volt) cord could be used…

      • It hasn’t been 110 volts for a long time. It’s 120 volts now. It isn’t the volts that matter for “achieving anything”, it’s the amps, and we have plenty of those. Lower voltage just makes it safer.

        • …the actual voltage standard in he USA is actually 117 volts according to NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology) but can vary from 105 volts to 130 volts.
          As for transformers, they do not work on non-pulsating DC…

      • …no such thing…there are inverters that convert 12v to 110 v, but the size and cost of such a scheme would be prohibitive. What Scott is proposing is an auxiliary starter that would work by plugging it in to household electric current–not a bad idea…
        Having worked on British electrical systems (where just about everything is fused at the appliance), I am surprised that there are not more electricity caused fires.
        Q: Why do the British drink warm beer?
        A: Because they have Lucas refrigerators…


        • about a decade or more ago when GM was changing their pickups I saw a new “construction model” with a good size inverter with 120 V A/C power replete in it. It was a hybrid of sorts, shut down at stops and auto restarted. The public must have yawned since I haven’t noticed them or know anyone with one.

          But 12 V DC inverters are fairly standard for very light duty in vehicles now, esp. pickups. My nephew installed one of the engine powered models on his Duramax for mobile welding. It’s a great system and versatile. I’ll use one in my next pickup with the controls and leads in the tool box and a/c power there as well as somewhere outside the toolbox. I saw a new pickup this week with a flatbed and welding cable jacks mounted on the back of the bed. No doubt this was one of those types I just described. A dedicated welding rig would certainly want to stay with a good Lincoln 250 diesel or similar but having a welder without dedicating the truck specifically to that chore makes a lot of sense for many. I sold my Lincoln Red Face SA 200 when I was broke and have regretted it ever since. I need a welder fairly regularly but not to the point of hauling one around so the engine mounted generator makes a great deal of sense and these systems often have a quite large inverter for a/c sourced power.

  6. And why aren’t cars designed to have some sort of generation coming from the wheels going ’round? Really! And there are four of them. I find it hard to believe that they cannot invent an electric car that could be totally self-sustaining powered.

    • I thought the same way years ago Pauline, trouble is that generators are actually electric motors electrically working in reverse. When you get down to the working internals of electricity and rotating metals, there’s far more friction than is outwardly seen. It’s called back-EMF (electro-motive force).

      If you’ve ever noticed your engine at idle slows down when you switch on the headlights, it’s because the alternator (generator basically) has to work harder to keep up the battery charge. It’s unavoidable. If you could try and turn this alternator yourself just getting it to charge a battery you’ll be in for a hefty workout.

      Electric motors in their standard configuration create electrically restrictive friction (back-EMF) just spinning without being connected to a drive unit or wheel, because they are also acting as a generator as they spin. This electrical friction is difficult to cancel out.

      Cars spend more time accelerating than braking. Placing a small generator on each wheel introduces friction. Though creating electricity, this friction forces the drive motor to work harder, making it use more power, making it run hotter and, heat in an electrical circuit creates more resistance.

      Many of us have studied this stuff for years. Electric motors need to NOT create back-EMF as they spin and generators need to be frictionless as they create electricity. But with cheap and readily available technology this is almost impossible.

    • I just want to add, that some have purported to achieve this or similar, but actual evidence is very thin on the ground.

  7. In terms of comfort, integrated electric heaters would do the most good if mounted or vented near where the feet rest. The plug-in type does some good but forgetting to unplug it at the end of a trip could easily land you in a heap of trouble. Take it from one who once made that careless blunder.

  8. A large number of our driver-caused problems could be remedied by making anyone who drives as part of their job to get a commercial drivers license and make all of the endorsements specific to the vehicle, routing, and route. If everyone who drives as part of their employment had to demonstrate a knowledge of all of the vehicle types with which they share the road, those whose vehicle’s characteristics are least well known would know more about them, and like the 100 monkeys, would percolate through the motoring population to a degree that would tend to make all drivers more respectful of each other.
    To segregate the segment of the driving population which has the best safety record, truckers, simply because they are the only ones subject to the FMCSA regulations is a very inefficient way to improve the safety of those who aren’t subject, and won’t be improved by non-participation in improvement programs.
    If it were up to me, non-commercial drivers would have tiered driving privileges: city streets, state highways, interstate. Each would have its own training and testing regime, and there would be no age limits. The insurance companies would do a better job of incentivizing driver performance with premium adjustments than all the traffic cops sitting in the donut shop.

  9. How about a hard drive on the car radio. I always have the radio on but I kind of tune it out, then all of a sudden I will hear something and wonder what they were talking about. With the hard drive like on my cable box I could jump it back and rehear what they just said.

    • That could be done easier, cheaper, and more reliably with flash memory than a hard drive, which become even less reliable when exposed to the rigors of temperature and vibration experienced in a car’s dashboard.
      I’d like to see someone make a car stereo with just an MP3 player with a drawer for microSD cards, selectable by push button just like stations are, so I could have a button for each of several genre of music.
      If it has a CD player, it should be able to rip CDs to memory in the MP3 player.

  10. 5 Steps to Stop a Home Invader – Peacekeeper’s Log

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    Jeff Berwick interviews creator Cody Drummond of The Peacekeeper App

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    Peacekeeper gives every individual the opportunity to become a force for good in their own households and neighborhoods. You no longer need to stand idly by while someone is in trouble. A “Peacekeeper” is willing to take some level of action, responsibility and possibly risk if that means that the lives of their community and family can be protected. We are confident that wherever the Peacekeeper method is implemented individuals will be stronger, safer and gain self- reliance.

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    • Dear Tor,

      As usual, our “public servants” allow themselves to have guns, but deny them to us, our nominal “masters” whom they pretend “to protect and serve.”

      When will people wake up and realize no one has the right to tell them they may not be armed???

      • Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer (among many others) would not think of owning a firearm – but neither would they tolerate not having armed bodyguards. Hippo-crips [sic]!

      • About the same time it dawns on those who carry for self defense that they should be allowed to carry in places where the most heinous violators of individual rights tend to aggregate: government buildings of all varieties: city hall, county offices, police departments, federal office buildings; all the places where your right to keep and bear arms is prohibited, even though it isn’t mentioned in the second amendment.

    • >”Cheng Chieh’s parents publicly apologized at Jiangzicui Station and called for a quick death sentence for their son.”<

      If they were American, they'd be saying what a good boy their son is (an aspiring rap singer, usually!) and suing the transit authitory and writing a book on how he got a bum deal! 😀

  11. I would simply like to see a windshield wiper that actually works against snow. With the exception of my ’74 Jeep CJ5 every wiper on every car and truck- including big rigs – fails to wipe away the snow right in the field of vision. Both ends of the wiper blade always get balls of frozen ice on them preventing the middle of the blade from making firm contact.

    I have tried just about every type of blade and the results are always the same. It is maddening! And damn if winter is not already here in Ohio.

    • skunkbear, you do use those exotic WW made of teflon type stuff that conform really well and are one piece, no pivot joints don’t you? Those and a good washer fluid and I rarely have a problem except for snow building up at the base of the windshield driving into really hard wind (and snow). I used to could find airfoil things to hold wipers down but with the new style, they’re not needed. Try em, you’ll really like em.

      Not sure how to address this but how do you get out when one side is frozen thick with ice? I need a de-icer on the window and door. Electric mirrors are the nads for sure. Why not electric side windows? Hell, those little thingies don’t bother me, put em in the windshield too. Super-thin little line beat hell out of not being able to see crap for all the stuff sticking to the windshield.

      • @8- I am not going to say who, because it violates about 100 US & UN laws on protecting the planet, but old school antifreeze bug sprayed undiluted will crack up packed ice on a concrete driveway nicely in about 5 minutes. I don’t think glycol is harmful to paint, but I don’t know for sure. Do not use the ‘environmentally safe’ stuff, it has no effect on ice.

        • Just be careful, ’cause dogs and cats’ll drink the stuff, as it tastes very sweet- and especially if water is scarce when everything’s frozen. [Hmmmm….now where’s that Kool-aid pitcher? Here Clover, Clover! I have some nice green Kool-aid for you!]

          • @Moleman – It could happen, but the dusting it is not concentrated enough in the cleared ice pack to be deadly. Now if they lick the once frozen doors and windshields???? That would be a big kitty cat neighborhood.

            • I see that they are now selling liquid Magnesium chloride (salt) to do the same de-icing thing. But I do not know how effective it is.

              • Any salt will do the trick by raising the freezepoint. Magnesium chloride, like sodium chloride, is a solid. It only becomes a liquid in solution. Magnesium chloride solution is called magnesium oil in the healthfood store.

      • EIGHT, “…WW made of teflon type stuff that conform really well and are one piece, no pivot joints…”

        Not sure what wipers you are talking about. What brand/model and where do you get them? Thanks.

        • skunkbear, here I am over a year late but triple edge wipers made in Tx. have done a fine job for me for decades but I recently discovered a new blade that appears to best them all, the Clarity blade by Invisible Glass.

          Here’s a link so you can read and see for yourself. I’m going to order some for the Pete.

          Since I clean my windshield, windows and mirrors daily, I also do something I’ve done since I was a teen and that’s wax them all. Bug goo will fly off for the most part and rain virtually disappears. I often go through heavy rains with no wiper use. The wiper does almost as good as the wax by itself but not quite. I try to clean, with soap and water too so the wax stays on. In the heat of the summer bugs will get caked, baked on and that’s esp. true the longer they’re on. I carry a collapsible squeegee and try to get the windshield a couple times a day when bugs are bad. It’s a bitch trying to see through a coat of bugs, lots of dust and road crud early or late when the sun is low and bright.

      • This is one case where the aerospace people came up with something that the consumer could use but neglected to share it with them: windshield heaters on aircraft and spacecraft.

      • LandRovers at least as early as 1964 had them….. the wires WERE noticeable, but certainly not a distraction. Used to have a pair of replacement glasses to eventuallly put into mine… don’t know where they went.

        • RE: “windshield heaters on aircraft and spacecraft.”

          That’s just plain, mean!

          The dirty bastards were supposed to… oh wait, my old statist self is kicking in there.

          I wonder, things went horribly wrong along about 1964, didn’t it?

          From what I’ve been told and read, the 1950’s was about, ‘better living through chemistry’ with a promise of personal jet-packs,…. then along comes the 60’s and everything went to sheet.
          Is that about right?

          Also, “modern Range Rovers have heated front glass”???
          Wow, do i Ever feel ripped off,… and a member of the lower class.

  12. Microwave, eh?

    Well, how about a commode?

    Could build it right into the seats…it’s already possible to turn sewage into power so these commodes could also power the vehicle…

    This is an idea we can all get behind.

      • No make should be proud to say he can get it into a soft drink bottle:-) I’ve been using Gatorade bottles for number 1 since I started long hauling. I use them for the same thing for vandwelling, as I’ve done since the mid 80’s.

        • Gatorade? Seriously? My wife was throwing away a big plastic container with a lid that sealed well, something you could reach into and get the basil or whatever was in it. Now that’s a winner.

            • Hey Tor,

              Have you been watching that ridiculous show “Quantico”?

              I have, for laughs.

              Talk about transparently obvious propaganda glamorizing federal government goons.

              • Yupp, no commercials straight from the internet mp4 file of it.

                At least Priya’s not so bad, as far as goonesses go.

                I think it’s over soon, Missus Tor says the backstory format is too confusing for her.
                – –

                Agent Alex as female boxing champion Mary Kom, and etc…
                – –

                What else has been making you laugh?

                We watch limitless, heroes reborn, mobile suit gundam, the flash, all kinds of statist apologetics garbage.

                • I watch statist propaganda anyway, just to see how they do it.

                  “The Last Ship” is a perfect example of undiluted “indispensable nation” propaganda.

                  The theme of the series is that if some virus based global apocalypse occurs, it will be the USG, in this case, the USN that will save Civilization As We Know It.

                  Given the fact that the USN provided the producers with a USN warship to play with, what did you expect?

                  I watch it anyway, but am hardly brainwashed by it. I think to myself while watching that USAMRIID probably caused the global apocalypse in the first place with some damned biowarfare project that got out of control.

                • Some libertarians insist that everything in the entertainment media is Illuminati propaganda, that nothing ever gets through their vetting process.

                  I disagree.

                  I don’t doubt the Illuminati seek total control. But I doubt they have achieved it yet.

                  Films like “They Live” or “Idiocracy” are examples of dissident perspectives.

                  So I believe, are films such as “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent”.

                  Some libertarians dismiss these films as “predictive programming”, whose purpose it to get people accustomed to the idea that this might be their future.

                  Again, I disagree.

                  I think they are cautionary tales, like “1984”, “Brave New World”, and “Farenheit 451”.

                  After all, my reaction upon seeing films like “The Hunger Games” is anger at the state, not acceptance, and I can’t be the only one.

                  • Libertarians are probably a failed political system.

                    Perhaps a good thing, and should be done by design?

                    Instead of politicians and middlemen, we could seek and then found a world without middlemen.

                    Libertarians may be the self chosen the sort who’ll brave reality without the veneer of feel good deceptions and ancient superstitions.

                    Like Nassim says, it’s our actions that reveal who we are. And how we spend our limited resources and time.

                    Using that criteria:

                    I’m just a leather sofa’d agitprop department lackey confecting all manner of things that may never, and perhaps should never.

                    Actually be realized in the “real” andnot just photonic cyberspace world.

                    You know, that material hadronic and leptonic universe where cars and bikes and people are made of electrons, protons, and neutrons.

                    Not the electron analogue phantasy universe of ip packet electrons and timeless 1×10−18 eV/c2 featherlight photons.

                    • I don’t use the term “libertarian” as much as I used to, even though technically, as a “anarcho-capitialist/market anarchist/voluntaryist”, I am still a libertarian.

                      The reason is that the term “libertarian” includes minarchism as well as anarchism, and I have rejected minarchism in toto as of late.

                    • bevin, not arguing but I was unaware libertarian denoted any sort of minarchism. It would seem to be an opposite. If that’s true then how would it be interpreted to encompass anarchy? I suppose libertarian is more a political term whereas anarchy is……. a way of life?

                    • Dear 8sm,

                      Actually I agree with you. Assuming I’m getting your drift.

                      I think that if we want to be sticklers, the term libertarianism ought to be restricted to anarchism, and exclude minarchism.


                      Because even though many minarchists call themselves libertarians, minarchism violates the NAP, therefore, strictly speaking, that disqualifies them.

                      But in practice, as of 2015, the term libertarian is actually more often applied to minarchists than it is to anarchists. Many conservatives are attempting to make themselves look good by calling themselves “libertarians” even when they’re not.

                      Hopefully this will change, and the name can be reclaimed from constitutionalists and conservatives.

                      We genuine lovers of liberty keep getting our terminology coopted by statists.

                      We used to be able to call ourselves liberals. That was back in the 18th century. But socialists stole the name liberal from us.

                    • bevin, you expressed it in more exacting terms but that’s exactly what I meant. Minarchism is just a term to dress up those who wish to SEEM to be libertarian, as you said, much like some members of political parties who are neither libertarian, anarchysts or anything close to either. Many of those members of that federal congress in DC come to mind. We even have a few poseurs in Tx…….and every other state. It’s a good talking point for people easily deceived. But the truth remains for them to be even close to libertarians they’d need to be Ron Paul clones at the least…..and there are none, certainly not his politician child……..Zionist butt licker…….

                    • bevin, Oh, and by the way, Rand can disprove my assertion at any time. I’d welcome that sort of response. Of course, we all know it won’t happen. Like that bottle of WT I bought at the liquor store, bought and paid for….but not nearly as smooth or pleasing.

                    • Dear 8sm,

                      It’s sad. Tragic actually.

                      Rand Paul learned by watching his father. But he drew the wrong conclusions.

                      The conclusion he drew from watching his father struggle for 30 years, was that when his time came, he had to play the politics as usual game in order to “win”.

                      The conclusion he should have drawn, was that his father paved the way for him. His father transformed the political climate. The son could now repeat the father’s rhetoric verbatim, with much better results at the polls.

                      How sad that Rand did not get this.

                    • bevin, that’s what I’ve always thought about Rand. For some perverted reason, he concluded, evidently, that he had to go along to get along or listened too much to those who told him his father was a joke. Certainly, the best thing he could have done if he had a libertarian bone in his body, and how could he not?, was to take up his dad’s cross and bear it to a greater “audience” than his father had. Wasn’t it evident Ron was pulling in people left and right, people who had no way of voting him to congress but showed their support for everything he said.

                      I was on the road a lot and had a Ron Paul sign(yard sign)in the back of my pickup. I had young people pass me and wave and honk and they’d have Ron Paul signage on their cars. I’ll never forget the energy of the 2008 election and how many supported him in so blatant a manner. It was truly great.
                      I even had that sign between the cab and toolbox on a KW I drove daily years AFTER the next election and got lots of thumbs up and the occasional honk. Rand could have taken that mantra and made it his own and made it even larger than his dad. I have never understood it.

                      A pickup passed me last week with a Molon labe rear window in original script. I honked and flashed my lights but I don’t think he saw me…..dammit. He was hauling butt. I’m going to get a molon labe flag for the back of my cab that can be read from the front and the back(day cab). I think a black flag with white lettering in a red Pete will stand out.

                    • Dear 8sm,

                      The way the Ron Paul/Rand Paul script should have gone is just as you and I described.

                      It should have been like volleyball.

                      One guys “sets” the ball. His team mate then “spikes” it.

                      Ron set the ball. Rand was supposed to spike it.

                      Instead, as we all know, Rand was out to lunch.

                      What a friggin’ shame.

                    • bevin, I have always wondered if this wasn’t the act of a jealous child, not mature enough to take the mantle from his dad, fearing he wouldn’t be taken seriously as his own person. I might have suspected that of a younger man, the sort of person I was when I was 20 but for a man who should have been inured to those doubts, it really caused me a lot of disappointment. I’m sure millions or maybe tens of millions of would-be voters feel the same way.

                      It’s just as if he didn’t respect what his father did. It’s certainly been disheartening for me and countless others, probably such as yourself.

                      Hhhmmmm, I think I hear that WT calling.

                    • bevin, Ron was staunch in his views. They didn’t vary and he was very disciplined. He was probably a no-nonsense taskmaster, probably not as much as his son must have felt. It’s not uncommon…..I’ve seen it before. He probably had a good relationship with his mother and ran to her for what he saw as relief.

                      I can understand this but he should have been able to put it behind him. He was willing to do something he’d seen his entire life and knew from top to bottom. He just wasn’t willing to be Ron’s son politically. Well, he’ll probably regret it some day, hopefully while he can still make a difference.

                    • Dear 8sm,

                      “I was on the road a lot and had a Ron Paul sign(yard sign)in the back of my pickup. I had young people pass me and wave and honk and they’d have Ron Paul signage on their cars. I’ll never forget the energy of the 2008 election and how many supported him in so blatant a manner. ”

                      I was not even in the US. But even from what I could see on the Internet, there was obviously something very amazing going on during the 2008 campaign.

                      It was no wonder the GOP establishment flagrantly violated its own primary nomination rules just to shut Ron Paul out.

                      Watching videos of young people flocking to support some guy who might be dismissed as some old fuddy duddy, was astonishing, even from a distance.

                    • Bevin,

                      I think it is simply this: RonPaul is different than most other politicians.

                      He is sincere. Speaks plainly. His actions supports his words.

                      People respect him for his sincerity and in attempting to change the direction (bankruptcy) this country is heading.

                      Many young people realize they are getting shafted by their government and Paul seemed to be the only politician trying to fix things.

                      RP was getting traction and laid a foundation for change. Rand could have continued with the work that Ron started, but he dropped the baton. Why? (I have no idea why, but there was so much potential in what Rand could have done if he continued what Ron started.)

                    • Dear Mith,

                      “RP was getting traction and laid a foundation for change. Rand could have continued with the work that Ron started, but he dropped the baton.”

                      Could not agree more. That’s why it’s so sad.

                      2008 was a sign to double down, not retreat!

                      Reminds me of the old “Rubin Vase” illusion. Rand read it exactly wrong.


  13. Back in the day of the air cooled VW, a gasoline fired heater was made for the VW that produced instant heat delivered thru the car’s stock heater ducts. The unit was about the size of a ‘pumper’ thermal coffee carafe. It made instant heat that could be shut off when the car became warm enough to make it’s own heat.

    • >”that could be shut off when the car became warm enough to make it’s own heat.”<

      Which was usually about 20 minutes after you got where you were going….

    • and they were fiddly as all get out to keep running. Webasto was the main supplier of them, they also make them for marine use. Not very efficient, some burned diesel instead of petrol. I used to have a Deutz powered one ton dual step van. Big box, and even that monster sucking down oil like they had stock in the Arab oil fields could not keep that 16 foot box van warm enough you could take your gloves off when driving.

  14. VW to the rescue. The old V Dubs had vent windows and the Type 4s (available on other models) had gas heaters that provided instant warmth.

  15. One word: Cornering lights! (Perhaps with an option to keep them on whenever the headlights are on, for illuminating the edge/side of the road). Some cars used to offer them…dunno if they still do….

    Also: How about a direct-drive, one-speed tranny for Hipsters? (The automotive version of a “fixie”) 😀

    Clover wants curb feelers.

  16. Actually, the back up buzzer makes more sense than the obligatory tire pressure sensors.
    If I were the king of automotive equipment , I’d put in a klaxon that sounds whenever the accelerator and brake are applied simultaneously when the vehicle is moving, to break people of two-footed driving. Then I’d add a turn signal sounder that gets louder until it is cancelled when the vehicle is moving.
    As a truck driver, I’d also install an reverse Vorad which would accelerate the vehicle to a safe distance after its driver has cut off a tractor-trailer, while admonishing said driver to seek medical treatment for their cranial rectalitis.

  17. Love your “clover” desktop. I email your website articles to people routinely, however they don’t know what you mean by “clover”. You oughta put a little “clover” definition box up by your header, er somethin’. Keep up the good work.

  18. Your space heaters are essentially there, in the form of “Touche Toasters”! Turn those babies on and the heat flows to you and keeps you warm until the heater kicks in. I use mine all the time!

  19. I think a typical alternator puts out 100 amps at 12vdc, so you have a total of 1200 watts. How many watts are needed to operate the car? So you are not working with much power, I think one thing they throw overboard to save weight is alternator power. Maybe if the car was getting power from a home while in the driveway. Some cars now have seat warmers standard.

    What I want in a car is a dash mounted garbage can. usb ports as part of all cabin lighting fixtures. Dash and other cameras. A fold out food tray for sloppy passengers. A built in air pump for tires. Standard camera tripod mount screwholes for accessories like cellphones.

  20. A few years ago I was talking with a Ford District man, and complaining about no Euro diesels. HE said, there will be none brought in because the EPA has decided on the Ethanol solution. So you have been cooked by some bureaucrat who is still living in the 60’s and has stars in their eyes, thinking they are going to “save the world” and get us out of our oil dependence by growing our own fuel, JUST like Brazil. Only Brazil makes ethanol out of sugar cane not corn. AND that is why food is so expensive today – the corn which could be used for food, is being channeled into ethanol production. IF they want 50 MPG by some certain date, then what? Everybody will be driving Mini’s – Smart Cars – and all kinds of little death traps, which if you have an accident with a big dog you lose.

    I am always amazed at the people who drive those big SUV’s – and just where do you think you are going with that barge?

    One other thing – all those new sensor devices which sense where the car is, relative to other cars, and the curb? Those are interfering with radar. It gives me fits when my detector goes off, and it shows something near me — WHERE? Turns out to be one of the high end cars just ahead, next to, or behind me. Causing my unit to go nuts. I wonder how much those units are causing false reading for the cops… and when AM I going to get a ticket for speeding, when it wasn’t ME – but some stupid car with sensors which are either blocking the signal, or causing false readings, and guess who got the ticket.

    AND if you are asking what I drive, Ford Transit Connect – commercial. I have our shop in there, and I mainly drive only for business today. I quit driving cars ages ago just to get away from all the idiots out there. Trust me, I dodge them all day long and I don’t want to go thru that all the time, so I stay home when I am not working.

    High Voltage

    • If it weren’t for the generous subsidy provided by the federal government to the makers of ethanol, this pernicious product would cease to gum up those vehicles unfortunate to have it foisted on them.

  21. What car should have that they don’t have is a high beam switch on the floor, like the cars did in the seventies. How seamless it was to turn you high beams on and off with your foot. New automatic high beam switches also suck, senses always misreading light conditions

    • Putting that switch on the floor is a dumb idea in regions where a lot of salt is used on the roads. They corrode and become non-functional within a few years.

      • It wouldn’t be safe to move them back to the floor either Bobster. Think back; when they first moved the dimmer switch off the floor to the steering column, nearly 38% of night time collisions in Virginia alone were the result of a blond getting her foot hung in the steering wheel. Can you imagine how much worse it would be if they had to stick their head under the dash to try to reach the dimmer?

      • To believe that floor switches need be as bulky or exposed to weather is certainly far from thinking outside the box… and yes it was a convenience that the lever does not provide. So why was it discarded? Probably because manufacturers like putting as many things as possible in the stalk. And hey, that makes for a new level of complexity and specialty technicians that never existed when there were floor switches.

  22. I wish us luck with all those goodies. I just bought a 2012 Focus with a 1/8″ headphone that I can use to play my own music over the car system. I have been waiting thirty years for that.

    • RE: “I have been waiting thirty years for that.”


      I’m really happy for ya. (Seriously. Brought a smile to my face reading it)
      At least somebody got what they wanted.
      …Which means, it’ll be another thirty years until they have floorboard switches for headlight brights. …If, ever.

      Also, I’ve been noticing that we don’t turn on the radio anymore for short trips across town. …This whole drag about getting old, whoa.
      Bout the time they make what I want, I might not want it anymore?
      …Maybe that’s why they don’t make it?

  23. Vent wings are like never having to lock your car. A very small metal rod could flip the latch & voila! Instant ownership. Now, a motorized unit…powered by a 2 cycle engine…THAT could be the American way.

    • maybe on the Yank Tanks…. the European ones were impossible to jimmy. Volvo, Peugeot, MG, Austin, Alfa Romeo, and, of course, the VeeWees (which I avoided like the plague except when other people paid me to fix theirs).

      Then there were the two bulkead flaps on the LandRovers, below the windscreen and above the bonnet, maybe five inches high and almost half the width of the fascia…… those, coupled with the in-roof hatch vents under the second layer tropical roof, would keep the car well vented and dry even in the nastiest downpours.

      • How. About. That. I’d forgotten how easy it was to break into a car with vent wings. Maybe that’s why they stopped making them?
        I wonder what made the European cars so invincible?
        I can’t picture it.

        LandRovers, RangeRovers, mang, those vehicles had it all?

        Ya. I feel violated.

        • @helot – I once locked my self out of my Bronco II at the car wash. The AAA guy walked over and in one motion slid his slim jim down the window and poped it quicker then I could with a key. Never bothered locking it after that embarrassing show of Ford’s security.

          But a Corvette will require a locksmith to make a key.

        • Nah, it wasn’t just the vent windows. It was just that back at the time they were common, there really weren’t ANY anti-theft features on cars, because society had not yet crumbled. You could open the regular door locks with a coat-hanger; and simply reach behind the ignition switch (in the dash) and manipulate the wires to start the car; no locked steering wheel…nothing. (Not that such was needed at that time- as it was still quite common for people to leave their keys in the ignition- even in big cities!)

          A few years before the vent windows disappeared, when they started giving some thought to theft deterrent, as crime was starting to increase; they started making them so’s they’d have a latch that required you to push a little button before, before you could turn the latch to open the vent window. Couldn’t open those with a hanger.

          I have a feeling that the vent windows were probably outlawed, like most good things….probably because of people banging their head into the little mini-pillar in an accident. Seems like right around the time they first started coming out with all the “safety features” in cars, is when the windurs disappeared….. Wouldn’t doubt it if Marxist Ralph Nader had something to do with it.

          • Excellent observation, Mole!

            My ’76 Pontiac – like most cars of its era – has an outside hood latch. Because – as you’ve noted – society had not yet crumbled and it was not necessary to maggot-proof everything.

            • Eric, I’m just glad that I’m old enough to have experienced the tail-end of that time period. Although, maybe it would be better not having known how things were, when the world was still “normal”….so we could think what we see around us today is “the way it has always been”…as many seem to believe is the cas…..

            • eric, I guess I use a hood latch too often but I’ve have many of them (the cable and handle part)break and they’re, for the most part, a real bitch to replace. Back in the late 60’s, early 70’s I had a problem with people stealing from my engine compartment. I used the old hood pins with locks and stopped that. I considered that a bad sign at the time. But, it wasn’t on an unknown vehicle and if you were in a real bind and somebody’s vehicle was close to yours as in what was under the hood, you could borrow parts from their vehicle to get you back to town and then return the borrowed part or the new one. This wasn’t as uncommon as you might think. A typical conversation from back then “Say, have you had any problems with your pickup(one of the “other” pickups) not starting?” “Nope, haven’t started it in a week”. “That’s good cause the the coil on mine went out a couple miles from where your barn is and I took the one off your pickup to get back to town……and that’s why the hood is up and I’m working on it right now”. “Thanks, glad to help”.

              Hell, we didn’t even lock the doors at the house till a decade ago. The Gestapo, had they any brains, could simply have opened the front door instead of bashing both doors in. Of course, I’m sure that was wayyyyy more fun for them. After all, they had to get into their special SWAT costumes and an open door would really have let the steam out. MF’s ……grrrrrr…..

            • One rainy day in 1976 or 77 (a year or two before the car was sold) I remember it still… I look out the window and my dad’s ’69 Mach 1 has it’s hood up. Some maggot had opened the hood and stolen the distributor cap. Then left it open. In the rain.

          • Nader is more of a fascist than a Marxist, which being the definer of communist believed in the ownership of the means of production rather than merely control of it.

  24. How about a solar strip on top that charges a small battery for a fan, thermostat and drop vents that open when temps inside the car reach over 95 degrees. A child or a pet can survive that temp for a couple hours and what returning worker after all day on the job wouldn’t want to avoid the blast furnace temps that hit them in the face when they open their car door.

  25. Amen to wing vents, a superb idea that’s been lost. I detest gadgetry, but if we’re fantasizing about it, how about road-detecting radar? I wish I had a dime for every white-knuckle drive I’ve taken in blizzards, often blind but for a few feet. A low-power radar that could read the road’s margins through deep snow for a couple hundred feet, and paint the picture on windshield or other screen.

    • RE: “road-detecting radar in blizzards”
      What!? Are you bound and determined to take All the fun out of driving blind?

      Not to (reluctantly) say that might be ok to have as an option, but mang, how would I ever have had Any Fun without cheating by hitting an OFF button? It’d be like fishing with a fish-finder, pure and total cheating! DO you Have Any idea how many chicks I’ve convinced to kiss me because we got lost in the snow!?
      Those might be days long past, but still, think of your posterity!
      …Let me guess – you are – and, you have daughters? Heh. Just kidding. …Kind of.

      Also, are you trying to ruin the fun I get from pulling idiots and cool guys who spun out into the ditch during a snowstorm/ Is that it!?

    • Hi Ross,

      Such a thing exists, believe it or not!

      I drove the new Benz S-Class, which offers it. Push a button and you get a Terminator-style view on the large flat screen display.

      I see all

  26. “Things Cars Ought to Have… But Don’t”

    Hmmm… how about bumpers?

    I mean real bumpers that are positioned in front of the vehicle’s sheet metal, “where god intended them to be,” not behind it.

    Someone could run into those, and if the speed was low enough, your car’s sheet metal would remain untouched. You would only need to replace the bumper.

    Needless to say, moronic goonvermin regs made those impossible.

    • Amen and Amen.

      You can actually get good bumpers “after market”, but it sure would be nice if they came that way.

      My dad had a 1990 dodge ram when I was a kid……flimsy crappy body, but the c channel rear bumper protected the pos pretty well.

  27. My ’68 Cutlass has vent windows (last year for GM A-bodies with this feature). I can crack them open, open the vents in the kick panels, and viola! Instant ventilation!

    I think the reason that vent windows were regulated into extinction on cars is anti-pollution laws.

    When I don’t run A/C on my daily drivers, it is not to improve fuel efficiency, but to prevent wear and tear on the A/C system. That is one part of a car that I hate messing with. If I have to roll the windows down all the way, I turn the A/C on. Modern cars actually get worse gas mileage with the windows down and the A/C off than vice-versa, not to mention the damage the wind does to the glued on headliners (flappy headliner sydrome).

  28. eric, I said it was cold.
    Well here I sit, all alone with a broken heart
    You know I took three bennies….and my semi-truck won’t start.

  29. In the frozen wastelands there are plug in block heaters. I actually ordered it on my ’97 but couldn’t plug it in when I had it outside and now that it’s inside I don’t need it. For my more recent mustang ford wouldn’t let anyone who didn’t live in like north dakota order it. Anyway these would create instant on warmth.

    Vent windows. Cheap. 99% or so of people will get AC regardless so the automaker deletes the vent windows to save money. I hate this. I don’t want to use AC all the time. What I want are the 1/4 panel windows to pop open like they do on my ’73. There is an aftermarket way of doing it on my ’12, but it’s too much money and too much cutting.

  30. -Interesting fact about some diesel electric locomotives: Some cannot IDLE! Check out the EMD F40PH in origional form. These are the mainstay of the Amtrack ’80s fleet, as well as still currently used by chicago’s metra. If you are ever in chicago’s union station, you will see one of these sitting there blasting away full power with no one even boarded yet in the indoor station. Some have been upgraded to idle though in later years of production. The interesting thing about Amtrack’s current fleet is that they are 2 stroke diesels. Doubt they would ever bring that back to diesel pickups as was the case in the 50s I think.

      • Yes, I think that is the issue- they solved it with 80s or 90s era engines, but those go back to the 70s I think when they first came out.

    • ALL GM diesels for decades were two strokes, many stil are, using turbochargers instead of mechanical Rootes type blowers. Two strokes had trouble idling slow, particularly large displacement ones, because of air flow at low RPM wasn’t “right” to keep them going…. also, low oil pressure at the tickover could wear the journals and bearings early. Since fueln was cheap (at the pump we mundanes were paying about two bits the gallon with road use taxes. Commercial and off road were likely getting it for tencents the gallon, so why bother sparing any? Two strokes in general tend to drop off a cliff on their torque curves below certain RPM’s. I remember the old Greyhound buses from the fifties, sixties, with the GM 6-71 transverse pusher mounted, whenever they were on a short stop at the Post Houses, they’d switch them to “long idle” to keep from tearing up the lower ends on the tickover. Even big rigs, fitting either the 6-71 or 8V-71’s nad the long idle switch. Getting a heavy load “off the line” was a bit tricky, especially with the 6. Most had rather low gears on the bottom end for just that reason. Once up to RPM, though, they were pretty strong for their weight and displacement. Noisey as all get out, though…… miserable things to drive, particulalry in a steel conventional. Two srokes also burn rather inefficiently, getting lower mileage for the same work as the Cummins or Mack of similar horsepower.

  31. VW TDI models have an auxiliary heater that runs until the engine temp is high enough to produce heat. It’s not going to cook a turkey, but it does help.

  32. Re: vent windows

    If the car makers refuse to provide them, I wonder if one could invent a clip on deflector blade of some kind.

    Open the window a crack, and angle the deflector blade to divert the outside air in. Seems doable. Hardly rocket science.

    • Hi Bevin,

      That would be doable, but because the side glass is beside one, it’s not nearly as effective. The wing vent was traditionally located a bit more forward – ahead of the driver’s (and passenger’s) seated position such that the airflow was directed at them more like it would be if it were coming out of a dash vent.

      • Dear Eric,

        Yeah, true.

        Well, for me at least, it’s not as big an issue.

        I’m big on roadsters and convertibles. Or failing that, sun roofs.

        With the top down, I get plenty of wind in my face!

  33. Following the great reviews here and on other car sites we purchased a 2014 Mercedes Benz GLK 250 with the dual turbocharged diesel engine. Since May we are getting the following results for fuel consumption: All in town driving 7.1 L/100km and all highway driving (long trips) 5.1 L/100km.

    We save all fuel purchase receipts from day one. The onboard computer also reads out a lot of information, including total Liters for the kilometers driven between fill – ups and my calculator confirms the numbers. It is all wheel drive and it has all the bells and whistles, enough to study the manuals for at least a full year!

    It has a bank safe solid feeling and the quality is simply amazing!

    • that calcs out to well above 40 mpg US measure oh autobahn.. That is incredible for a car of that size and weight, running AWD. I’ll bet we can’t get that combination this side the puddle…… stupid EPA.

  34. I can speculate on a few of them.

    1. Ceramic/space heaters – In order to produce any significant amount of heat to warm up the interior, the amperage required would be beyond the capacity of your typical 12V DC automotive electrical system and stock alternator generating capacity. Though they may sell plug-in models, I can almost guarantee the amount of heat generated by them would be insignificant, especially when you consider that for a gasoline powered car, the engine will itself be generating a lot more heat within a couple of minutes anyway. While such a space heater in a car wouldn’t need to be as powerful as one for your home, they are still very power hungry even in small form, and even then they require a few seconds to really get going. I’m not sure it’d be worth it just to shave 30-60 seconds off of the time it takes to start heating up the interior.

    2. Microwave – This is a two-parter. I actually looked around for a vehicle-powered microwave once and there are only a couple of them available, and they seem to be horribly underpowered. Again, it comes down to power requirements, and the typical 12V power system in a car cannot provide sufficient amperage to power a significantly useful microwave. The extant models can barely microwave a bag of popcorn and require a long time to do so. Also, guessing from their rarity, it would appear these are not an in-demand item for the long haul traveler. Coolers are not high-power drawing items compared to anything that generates heat. Most of the in-car “refrigerators” are really just coolers and can only maintain a small differential in temperature from outside and inside the unit. Most of them only work by blowing air conditioned cold air into and around the box rather than being true coolers. There are some (ARB makes one of the better ones) that are true refrigeration units, but they are several hundred dollars. I would imagine a few high-end luxury cars’ units also work as truly capable refrigeration units.

    Part two likely has to do with fear of more regulation. Eating and driving is already frowned upon by the powers that be, and I could imagine a lawsuit waiting to happen, or a government apparatchik just waiting for an excuse to come up with another rule to regulate. They might even ban cupholders. If I remember correctly, it’s already illegal in some areas to eat and drive anyway. I believe it falls under the “distracted driving” laws.

    3. Wing vent windows – I agree that this would be a wonderful feature to bring back. I’m guessing the added complexity, difficulty in weather sealing when closed, and possibly some sort of regulatory concerns about rollover safety or something has played a role in their demise. Also, they likely screw up the airflow around the vehicle, as does rolling down your windows, and gas mileage being the holy grail currently among regulations, we can’t have that. The EPA likely doesn’t test with the windows down (or the A/C on). Also, modern A/C units have become much more efficient at their jobs, so the power draw, though likely calculable, doesn’t amount to much in gas mileage. I’ve read some reports that claim driving with your windows down above 35-40mph hurts your gas mileage more due to aerodynamics than driving with the A/C on and windows up.

    I suspect you’re right that a back to basics vehicle with no A/C and very limited gadgets and technology would be much cheaper and, secondarily, in demand. However, since all new cars are required to have stupid stuff like air bags, ABS, and, soon, backup cameras, it’s nearly impossible to make a truly inexpensive but quality car today. Since A/C adds relatively little to the cost, and gives you a major check box on the standard features list, I’m not sure any of them would go for the trade-off of wing vents vs. A/C.

    4. Diesel hybrids – These exist already, though as you’d guess, mostly in Europe. VW and Audi have some on sale or in development, and several other manufacturers are looking at them. Diesel engines, because they are heavier and often require turbochargers, definitely have some downsides compared to gasoline engines as generators in hybrids. Hybrids already have the extra weight penalty of the massive battery packs, and are already much more expensive to make because they have two powerplants, not one. Adding an iron block and turbos to the mix adds weight and complexity they don’t likely want. I bet we’ll have an American example soon, though, as the pros seem to outweigh the cons, no pun intended.

    • So some people here are willing to have an unshielded microwave heater cook their bodies just for the convenience of hotter drinks? Seems to me these same people need to read what microwave energy does to the body (and to water, food, and drinks)… oh yah, the government allows them, so they are OK? Sure.

      • Most cellphone addicts don’t seem to have any problem with cooking the side of their brain on the other side of the ear they hold their phone against. Holding a cellphone to ones head is essentially the same thing as holding ones head against the front of the average microwave oven operating on the highest continuous setting, given the leakiness thereof. Even the WHO has admitted recently that cellphone use is the major cause of the epidemic of glioblastoma.

        • Amazing, isn’t it? They’ll look back on these days like we look back on the 1950’s, when cigarettes were touted as actually being GOOD for you!

          “Could you believe it? Back in the teens, people’d talk for hours a day on cell phones, frying their brains with all that radiation?!”

          In Europe, they took the wifi out of schools already….here, we’re just starting to put it in- Amazing how in this day and age, data can’t seem to make it across the pond…

          Microwaves; cell phones; wifi; bluetooth……I avoid ’em all like the plague- and yet we are all exposed to all the EMFs in the air from all the cell phone towers and wifi hot-spots, etc- buit at least we aren’t concentrating them and directing them right to our heads, like the users of those things are…..

          • If our public fool system’s curriculum hadn’t been dumbed down to autism-compatible, they would still teach the inverse square law, and people would still understand that any radio frequency’s threat increases with frequency and decreases with distance from the point of radiation.

        • I can’t abide sail fawns – and am one of the few, the proud who does not have one and never will.

          I hate them for many reasons. But I especially hate the contributing role they’ve played in the ghetto-ification of American society. The idiot obsession with electronic gadgets. Of gibbering away (usually loudly) almost constantly, whether in one’s car, in public – or even when sitting with others at a table. It is electronic-age barbarity.

          And it is premised on the bullshit notion that people need to “reachable” at all times.

          Not this clown.

          • My neighbor- a farmer- who just a few years ago didn’t have a computer; now has a dumbphone. He’ll come over to talk to me- and in the ten minutes he’s here, he might get 4 phone calls and 10 texts.

            How do they stand it???? How do they get anything done????? And are these vital messages? No- it’s always “What’s up, dood?!” or someone sending a funny pic or a forwarded emoticon from AssBook, saying that “Bob is sad”……

            If anything, this “communications revolution” has stunted actual communication!

            I put an ad on Gregslist[sic :)] recently, to find a home for a doggie I had found on the road. Everyone’s emailing me, saying “text me” [I don’t do texting!] – or wanting to go back and forth with email……WTH? YOU”VE GOT a PHONE in your hand!!!! One phone call will accomplish more in 30 seconds than an hour of texting or emailing!!!!

            The world went to hell when cell phones became popular! I HATE HATE HATE the stoopit things!

          • Funny thing is I got the whole play with the gadget thing out of my system in the 1990s, I was the ‘bad’ person for playing with the products the company I worked for made. Then I saw them as a leash and a burden when everyone else was adopting them around 2000. Now I’m the ‘bad’ person because I have clam shell phone and don’t do ‘texting’ and don’t have web access on the go, or anything else. Old people and little kids have passed me by supposedly.

            • Smellphones can be a great business tool. I had one back in the 90’s, when I used to pick up junk cars….sure beat having to hire a secretary/office person to answer the phone. And it was “cool” back then. Now that every 5 year-old; welfare slob; and homeless person has one….it’s much cooler not to have one, IMO.

            • It never clicked with me. I never saw – and still do not see – the need for a sail fawn, gnomesayin’?

              I have a phone. At home. It is connected to an answering machine. Leave a message and I’ll get back eventually. The idea of people being able to “reach” me wherever I am makes me feel like heaving my guts. Whatever happened to alone time?

              And why do so many people feel the need to be talking/texting all the got-damned time? I’m a writer, for chrissakes… and I don’t have that much to say!

              • Well-said, Eric! When I go out the door…..I am unreachable. Leave a message. If it’s so urgent….drive over and find me out here, somewhere.

                I just came back from a nice bicycle ride. I see that sell all kinds of mounts so people can put their stupidphones right on the handlebars and never miss a call…and can use GPS, and listen to music…

                The thought of someone bothering me with a phone call while I’m out there taking a ride is SO abhorrent! And I managed not to get lost when I was 8…I think I can still handle navigation just fine, at 52. And music? Why would I want to block-out the natural sounds around me, even with good music?

                I just don’t get it!

                But the biggest thing of all: WHY do people want to type cryptic messages on a tiny keyboard, when they have a PHONE in their hand??? That’d be like having a Ducati, but insisting on pushing it along with your feet on the sidewalk!

              • Never driven a solo towtruck, huh?
                Going from tow to tow is a lot more profitable than running back to the office to wait for the phone to ring while you play back all the calls you missed, who have already found another towtruck driver with a cellphone.

                • When I had my first tow truck, before getting a cell phone, a common scenario was to stop where ever I knew there to be a good-working payphone, and check my messages….and then the subsequent heartbreak come the day that the good phone would be broken 🙁

                  Being liberated from the payphones was a major quality-of-life improvement….and of course improved bidness[sic].

                  Of course, the ell phone itself started to become a pain…. I remember the day, not too long after getting out of the junk-car game, that I calmly dropped the cell phone on the pavement, and stomped it into oblivion, while saying “F you, Sprint!”.

      • It gets even better then radio waves:

        Japan’s smartphone ‘zombies’ wreak havoc on the streets
        But the growing ranks of these cellphone addicts are turning cities like Tokyo, London, New York and Hong Kong into increasingly hazardous hotspots, where zombified shoppers appear to be part of vast games of human pinball.

        “Hey, watch it!” barks a middle-aged salaryman as a hipster typing on his smartphone slams into him during one recent Friday evening crush hour.

        • Yeah….it’s to the point now where you see people just walk across the road without even looking- typing away on their dumbphone. Of course, when they get hit, if the BAC of the hapless driver is 1/100th of a percent over the arbitrary limit….it’s “Pedestrian killed by another drunk driver!”…..

            • Are the Clovers over there crying out for “Knife Control”? Knives are every bit as dangerous as guns – and cars – just like pencils misspell words, all by themselves.

              • Clovers the world over are the same.

                I am a gun enthusiast. One of the things that almost makes me weep is how Chinese civilians in China’s civil society invented guns and gunpowder, yet Chinese goonvermin down through the ages have successfully deprived them of the right to keep and bear arms.

                • Slightly off topic, but one of my favorite T-shirts a friend used to wear had a drawing of a polar bear wielding a .50 Cal Thompson sub, with the caption “Support your right to keep and arm bears.”

                  • Dear Phil,

                    I wondered about that slogan. That particular example suggests a pro gun stance.

                    But I seem to recall some other elements sporting the same slogan who did not come off as pro gun. I got the impression they were mocking the 2A and gun rights, and were animal rights ecofanatics.

                    I wasn’t 100% sure though. Anybody know anything about that?

                    • I know the guy who wore the one I saw was definitely pro-gun.
                      I love animals – they’re delicious.

                    • IDK, I heard it referred to as a .50, I just know it looked like the ones the bootleggers used to carry in violin cases in the movies.

                    • .45 ACP.
                      No 50’s made. I fired a full auto Elliott Ness type Thompson once. Very hard to keep the barrel from going vertical. Even Rambo could not hold on to a full auto .50cal Thompson.

            • Wow, Bev- One wouldn’t expect to see that sort of thing in Taiwan!

              Too bad Taiwan is so urbanized- it seems like you have a great deal more freedom there, these days, than we do here in the US.

                • Bev, you know, we hardly have any real gun rights remaining here. Only I’ll bet there, you don’t have to afraid of the police.

                  (Thanks to Youtube, I’ve had the opportunity to see quite a bit of Taiwan!)

                  Heck, in many ways, I’d bet mainland China is more free than the US now (My cousin recently moved to Shanghai, and loves it… Mainly for business though- he’s in the financial services business)

                  • Dear mm,


                    No guarantees for the future, but at least for now, no region of China, either the mainland, HK, or Taiwan, has the kind of police abuse that the US has.

                    The outrages regularly listed at Pro Libertate, Cop Block, Police State USA do not happen. At least they are not SOP.

                    • My first (and pretty much only) 9-5 job when I was young, was at a business owned by a couple from Taiwan. That was 30 years ago- but I always remember them- they were darn nice people (Of course, their landlord- also from Taiwan, wasn’t so nice…he was siphoning off their electricity!).

                      They’d keep a pot of Jasmine tea going all day….that was good stuff!

  35. I get what you are saying about the unlikelihood of a diesel-hybrid due to the initial cost. But I can think of a few possibilities where it might happen – buses, taxis, maybe even semis. Hey, it works for locomotives.

    • Locomotives are actually diesel-electric not a hybrid setup. Diesel generates electric power for the electric motors that move the train. The diesel engine is not connected to the wheels at all. So there is no batteries for storage nor a transmission. Imagine how big the transmission would have to be to connect the diesel to the wheels directly.

      I don’t know why they don’t use that setup for at least semis. The electric motors have plenty of power to pull a train. You could save the weight of a transmission, and if your use the diesel as a full time generator, you don’t need the heavy and expensive batteries either. And hopefully some diesels could generate enough power to not need turbo chargers, saving some weight and removing some complexity. Plus with electric motors on semis it would put more weight down lower.

      • two strokes won’t pass initial start-up emissions tests and that’s about the only reason they don’t exist. Detroit Diesel has always made two-stroke engines, esp. for marine use since they rev quickly, are lightweight and can take over-rev situations much better than four stroke engines.

        Two=strokes get a bit “sicker” from extended idling, probably because most are blown and the engine isn’t using much of that forced induction during idling.

        I always get a block heater for every vehicle but don’t have to now I switched mainly to diesel.

        Another thing that should be integrated is a large inverter. Since an alternator initially produces a/c current, it could do double duty. You can get add-on inverters but having one that was already made into the vehicle and the proper belt listed in parts books would be a plus. A 6,000 watt inverter is good for nearly anything including welding.

        I agree with eric about the small heater for the inside. I’m not always some place I can plug in a block heater. I do love to crank one up and see fairly low oil pressure and feel the heater immediately. It’s below freezing here this morning so firing up the big rig will be a drag, esp. getting it warm. Yep, it should have a cord for the engine block heater but it doesn’t, something I need to address.

        Vent windows, yep those too. That’s one reason I like the “classic” styles of some big rigs, are made like the ones before that had vent windows. Very few of them have that any longer and that really sucks when just a hint of air would fit the bill and no a/c compressor running would be needed.

        Well, plenty of big rigs have nuclear waves so that’s a no-brainer for cars with a bit of extra room. I’m sure the manufacturers are worried about getting sued for hot stuff coming out of one and being spilled on unwilling participants. Truckers don’t expect something for nothing and would only cuss their own incompetence getting burned by hot liquid or something, regular consumers, well, it must be idiot proof.

          • The new ones have surprised me. Even on very cold days (single digits) there’s only a slight (2-3 second) pause before they fire. I assume they still use glow plugs – but am guessing they’ve been amped up some!

        • WTF is a “nuclear wave?”
          Truckers only expect to be the target of the next unjustified federal regulation because the real source of vehicular problems is the private motorist which they lack a regulatory nexus to address.
          Being a trucker with a quarter century of service, I can assure you that the average driver is just as thick as a brick as the average motorist. Most of them have only the required inspection knowledge base to separate them from the majority of motorists, which translates into very little after the walk around portion of the CDL exam is history. Truckers neglect their vehicles just as much as other drivers. Trucks are just built much more reliably and durably than cars are, with enough redundancy to keep truckers out of trouble.

          • Bill, I’m sure you’re correct to some extent but the majority of truckers have a good knowledge of their rigs and know what they’re doing. I worked on my rig all day because my trailer broke yesterday(suspension, drivers side) and I had to use a trailer a no truck driving fool uses and abuses. It was full of what had been water but was now ice so nothing worked and a brand new switch in my tractor that controls the valves for opening the belly doors shorted, luckily while I wasn’t loaded, and wouldn’t allow me to do much of anything. I was the guy who was out in that cold wind and worked on it all day to identify various problems with air, water and electrical wiring I had to trace down.

            I came across a couple guys hauling some really big, heavy overwidth stuff this afternoon who were out adding chains and tightening boomers, probably because it was trying to walk around on them. Nobody puts a line haul driver in any of these rigs. I passed one guy I could see with his personal truck and welder fixing his just broken trailer and he looked grim but determined.

            In fact, I worked on my rig half the day yesterday putting on a new starter. MY cab is stuffed with tools and parts as is my toolbox on the frame. This is a pretty common type of truck in Tx.

            You don’t need to tell me about those without a clue since I got run over sitting at the back of the line at a stopped road construction site by one of those guys who knew nothing about trucks but was seduced by those “Make $300/day” constant ads on radio and television.

            BTW, a nuclear wave is the ancient term for a micro-wave.

            A mechanic friend laughed today when I said I needed a “jake brake”. I told him it was no laughing matter since I commonly haul “all you can get on” when not highway driving and stopping is hell on a truck. He knows, just wanted to give me a hard time.

            • Calling a microwave a nuclear wave wouldn’t happen if the caller weren’t ignorant of the differences between nuclear and electromagnetic radiation. I started to read a book and stopped when the writer referred to the irradiation of food with microwaves to sterilize it. I trashed the book in a review on Amazon to prevent anyone from being damaged by misinformation obtained in it.
              Why would anyone who knows about manual transmissions want an automatic?
              The next change to the CDL may be a manual transmission endorsement, now that entire fleets are going to automatic transmissions, and the carrier schools aren’t teaching on manuals anymore.
              If I ever get a ticket for using my engine brake in a city with “No Jake brake” signs, I’m going to argue that my truck doesn’t have a Jake brake, now that almost all the manufacturers have designed their own models for their engines. That, of course, will spur a signage change, if the judge isn’t a crook…

              • I’m surprised, given the level of tyranny- that one doesn’t have to have a special endorsement to drive a red truck or a blue truck- if you took your test in a white truck!

                Hmmm…I could just see the new signs: “No Mechanically Assisted Engine-Assisted Braking”? (Then they’ll nail you for downshifting, too!)

              • I use a winter windshield washer that melts ice quite well. But a morning with thick ice, I take a gallon of room temp water and pour it on the metal above the windshield(don’t pour it on the glass). It takes about a gallon per side to melt it down to nearly nothing and make sure to completely melt the ice on the wipers. Then turn them on with the winter spray in the washer and voila, no ice.

                No matter what the vehicle though, after I buy one(never had a new one), I install a block heater. It’s so nice to crank one and not see the oil pressure go into the stratosphere and hear the engine crank easily. You have hot air in the heater nearly instantly the last 30 years or more, the a/c compressor works as a heater on the windshield mode.

                As far as cold seats, I have the perfect answer……crank it up and let it idle till the damned things aren’t cold, hell, it’s only oil and we need to use as much as we can. Hauling a load of sand to a large pipeline at the Santa Rita(do a search for this and learn something very near and dear to you all you might not be aware of, the very start of the Permian Basin) I lamented that price of crude didn’t have a 1 in front of the $50. I might get a new truck and a raise(yowsuh).

                Back to eric’s original rant, how bout dem kick panel vents? I used to(when I had them)put a dishpan full of ice in the passenger floorboard, open that kick panel, roll up the windows with just the back ones down slightly and great a/c. No a/c, $1500 repair bill? No, just another bag of ice.

                But let’s go back……..back to my time when there was a cowl vent that worked really well. If the Pete I drive were my own, I’d build a cowl vent for it like the old 359’s had.

            • Eightsouthman, you are probably not a company driver, which is what truckers predominately are these days. Company drivers don’t need anything more than a way to call home and report a breakdown. With the advent of company training, most companies don’t want their drivers playing mechanic beyond pre-trip and adding fluids.

      • I’d expect costs are the main reason big rigs don’t have diesel/electric power. Some off-road big rigs do have that set-up but it’s mainly for controlling braking and traction in mountainous types of applications such as mining and log-hauling. It would be a boon to have your “brakes” regenerate electrical power but you’d still need the same(think much cheaper) brakes powered by compressed air on the trailer.

        • The braking system used for tractor-trailers was taken from train infrastructure and neither has changed very much since Westinghouse introduced it.
          All of the wheels on a locomotive are driven by traction motors. Only the rear drive axles on a tractor receive power and usually only the rear axle, unless the interaxle lock is activated.
          There is no good reason for the same system used on locomotives not to be used on tractor-trailers, aside from the static technology magnates behind the latter. The technology exists for big trucks to have equal or better braking than any other highway vehicle, but the public will has never developed to require the government to mandate it or get out of the way of the engineers.

          • Motors weigh a great deal more than brakes and are more costly and technical as is the electrics linking them. Bureaucrats who don’t know caca make the ridiculous maximum limit laws that hinder that type of technology. I started trucking nearly 50 years ago. The load limits were the same as now only with 10.00X20 or 9.00X20 tires with tubes and Erie style hubs and split ring wheels. Now we run 11R 24.5’s for the most part that hold a great deal more weight much more safely but load limits remain stuck in the 50’s and 60’s. You can thank the state for trucks not moving forward tech wise. Since money seems to be no issue, it’s an amazement to me we don’t have separate roadways for trucks and cars. Now that would be a real safety boon……and leave all the “snowbirds” in the car lanes.

            • Wyoming has been talking about building truck lanes on their interstates, but they’d be toll lanes just for trucks, and those of us who drive trucks know how well non-truckers are at staying out of the way of our accommodations.

      • Diesel-electric locomotives are essentially series hybrids, like the Volt. I’m not sure why GM went that route instead of a parallel hybrid like the Prius and just about every other hybrid out there… For a car, it just makes more sense. Use the electric during slower, stop-n-go and the ICM on the highway, where each respective powertrain is most efficient. Obviously, trains go the series route because, personally, I wouldn’t want to pedal the clutch on a motor like that… Just no practical way to directly connect the diesel engine to the driven wheels. I don’t get it for a car though… every energy transformation is lossy and that’s probably why the series-hybrid-math doesn’t work out for trucks, or any car for that matter.

        Speaking of windows, Eric… While I do think other factors conspired to eliminate the vent windows, most cars have the mirrors mounted in the space where the vent window was in the past. While there still are some models with the mirror mounted to the door, they seem fewer and farther between.

        Along the “window” line of thought… How about rear windows that go down in a coupe? My 95 Acura Legend coupe (with a 6-speed manual, no less) had rear windows that would go down. Even back then, people who rode back there were amazed. I don’t know that I’ve seen another coupe since that has those…

        • What about baaaaack windows (what we used to call the ‘way back’ when I was a kid) in a station wagon that would open a bit like the one’s on my wife’s (don’t shoot me guys, she’s not a clover) mini-van?

          • PtB, I can no longer even hear the word mini-van without thinking of Woody Harrelson in Zombieland.
            “Oh, that really is a nice mini-van isn’t it?” That’s one funny scene.

        • GM designed the Volt to qualify for the massive subsidy that it receives from the federales. If GM’s corporate czars weren’t driven by a desire to be part of the communo–fascist style of government into which the federal government has morphed in the last century, it wouldn’t have allowed itself to become owned by the government, a move that would have made Marx smile, given the government ownership of the means of production elucidated in The Communist Manifesto.

          • Yup!

            The Volt – and the ELR – and the Tesla… they’re all USSA crony capitalist products, the American analogs of the Trabant.

          • All the car companies willingly, for profit, attached themselves as tightly as possible during WW11 simply because they had large facilities and were good at making or having parts made and assembling them. They all made Jeeps, guns, tanks, etc. That was basically the end of the free market. It was for nearly all big industry. Since then saying GE or Seimens or Ford or GM has meant being part of the military/industrial complex.

            And then you have bottom feeders that simply use graft to make “innovative electric cars” for no other reason than to get “richer”.

            • Free markets died in the late 18th century, killed by the British banksters that demanded and got the first central bank.
              We’ve had a mixed economy ever since, with bits of communism and fascism tossed in every chance Congress got the chance.
              Most Americans are so ignorant of what communism and fascism are today that they don’t understand how much damage both of them do to the economy.

              • Not to mention how our politicians really mixed things up when they started granting the railroads all kinds of special favors and privileges- like eminent domain.

                • Actually most of the Founders were mercantilists – a la Adam Smith – hence the provision for tariffs in the Constitution. Austrian economics came later.
                  Eminent domain dates back to the Magna Carta, IIRC, when it was an improvement over the King just taking whatever he wanted w/o compensation, but it too is a violation of the NAP.

                  • Dear Phil,

                    Agree. Sad to say, most of the founders were not as saintly as I once believed.

                    Compared to other “nation builders,” they were pretty damned good. But if adherence to the NAP is applied strictly, most get a failing grade.

                    Others, who refused to sign the constitution, which as Larken Rose wryly notes proclaims that “I’m allowed to rob you,” came off somewhat better.


                    But even most of them, trapped mentally within the conceptual box of minarchism, failed to see how the very act of establishing a conventional monopolistic authority was inherently wrong and immoral.

                    • Mutual consent agreements, like L. Neil Smith’s, are the best way to protect the signatories rights from encroachment from others who respect them, but those in Congress don’t respect the specific wording of the first amendment that simply says “Congress shall make no laws…” which would have been better as a standalone sentence, eliminating the need for Congress in the first place.

          • Gone with the wind, EPA and regulations. We had a chance in 1949 but threw it away.

            Taylor’s design of a roadable aircraft dates back to 1946. During a trip to Delaware, he met inventor Robert E. Fulton, Jr., who had designed an earlier roadable airplane, the Airphibian. Taylor recognized that the detachable wings of Fulton’s design would be better replaced by folding wings. His prototype Aerocar utilized folding wings that allowed the road vehicle to be converted into flight mode in five minutes by one person. When the rear license plate was flipped up, the operator could connect the propeller shaft and attach a pusher propeller. The same engine drove the front wheels through a three-speed manual transmission. When operated as an aircraft, the road transmission was simply left in neutral (though backing up during taxiing was possible by the using the reverse gear.) On the road, the wings and tail unit were designed to be towed behind the vehicle. Aerocars could drive up to 60 miles per hour[1] and have a top airspeed of 110 miles per hour.[2]


          • Sure, Bill, we know that. The question was rhetorical. But… even worse, they designed a series hybrid with a “range extender” which is probably as useless as other “extenders”, though I can’t speak from experience. Just because they could? Taxpayer subsidized proof-of-concept? To be different? Yeah, we can all design crap that doesn’t have to stand up to the rigors of the marketplace if we’re getting handouts. They could have done a parallel hybrid, which is somewhat “proven”, like everybody else, but they didn’t.

    • Diesel locomotives are not hybrids. The diesel engine powers a massive traction motor drive system, and the entire power train operates continuously.

      • I disagree. It’s still a series hybrid in essence. The Volt, with a larger ICM and no batteries would be the same thing. Just because a car is lighter so that batteries can hold enough charge, and plug in, doesn’t change the nature of the propulsion system. With a big enough extension cord and a rail car (or several) full of batteries, they’d be more similar, sure but at the end of the day, you have an ICM powering a generator that provides electric power to electric motors, a series hybrid.

      • I guess, Bill, to your point… since the locomotive cannot operate on electric alone, without the diesel providing power to the generators, it’s not a “hybrid”. In the modern context of “hybrids”, however, the series arrangement is no different than the Volt except that it lacks excess capacity accumulated in batteries. I see what you’re saying though…

    • diesel hybrids aren’t quite the system used in the railroads. There, the diesel engine turns a huge generator (alternator, I believe0 and that electric current directly drives the wheel motors. In a hybrid, the engine is used to charge a battery bank as well as directly drive the wheels. When the battery is well charged, and power needs are low or non-existent, the engine shuts off completely. When needed to add more power or refill low battery pack, it restarts. The go-pedal controls power to the wheels, not engine throttle. That is most often computer controlled.

      In my area, the stupid transit system spend about a half million per copy on a bunch of new hybrid busses…. diesel engine charging huge battery packs that actually drive the bus. The dummies use these on long freeway routes, where their advantage is lost. We see them in town sometimes, they don’t seem to accelerate quite as quickly as conventionally powered ones.

      A number of highway trucks, and a growing number of town fleets (garbage trucks, utility company equipment, I hear FedEx are in trials in Texas) are switching to natural gas fueled diesel engine trucks…. either compressed NG or liquified NG. NO pollution, longer engine life, plenty of power, they perform just about as well as the former diesel engines in the same rigs… ‘I’ve learned a bit about them, a standard diesel engine can be converted to use the NG fuel. Retrofitting, or buying already fitted as new rigs are both happening. Waste Management in the Puget’s Sound regioh have switched to all NG powered rigs for trach pickup. They love it… and so does über green Seattle, the EcoFreko Capital of North America.


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