John's Journal: John McElroy's multimedia blog about the automotive industry

RoAb #94 – The ‘Hall in the Family’ Episode

August 21st, 2011 at 3:18pm

Hall-in-the-Family-2-Autoline
Coming up on RoundAbout, find out what GIANT tech company is chasing after automakers, pressuring them to use its software.  Talk about a trifecta of FAIL.  Three car magazines from three different countries are stuck in a very embarrassing situation.  And we take a look back at the 1980s with a clever TV commercial from Dodge.  Enjoy all of this great taste with fewer calories PLUS we’ll get to a Dream-Cruise themed installment of VERSUS.  So get in, sit down, shut up and hold on, RoundAbout is coming at you!  Our special guests this week are none other than Jim Hall and his evil twin-brother Bob, plus Alex Kierstein from Hooniverse.com.

Brought to you by Advance Auto Parts and Tire Rack

Thanks to our partner: Wheelspin.tv

Play RoundAbout Episode 94

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Featuring: Jim Hall, Bob Hall, Alex Kierstein, Steven J. Ewing, Michelle Naranjo, Craig Cole and Ben Sanders

Show notes and video after the jump!

RoundAbout records LIVE on Fridays at 6:30PM ET/3:30PM PT. Visit RoundAboutShow.com and click Watch Live to watch our webcast and look in on all the antics.

Show Notes:

Chevrolet spotter’s guide for Dream Cruise™ 2011
Well, it’s the middle of August and we all know what that means . . . it’s Michelle’s birthday!  You’re only 29 once Joey, so let loose and have some fun!  Besides that, it’s also time for another Dream Cruise to rumble, congest and overheat its way down historic Woodward Avenue, which, like a box cutter with a fresh blade, slices its way through a slew of Michigan communities between Detroit and little Detroit . . . I mean Pontiac.  To help get you ready for the big event, which officially takes place on the third Saturday of every August, our friends at Chevrolet have put together a “spotter’s guide” to help you identify historically significant Chevys from the past century.  Can you tell a ‘55 Bel Air convertible apart from a Chevelle SS 454?  If not, this guide can help!  It shows the profile silhouettes of 10 important bow-tie cars.  So learn yourself some history and check this out — RoundAboutShow.com!  And all I can say is I hope it doesn’t rain this Saturday.  Nobody likes a wet dream . . . cruise.

Corvette-inspired hybrid hits the road
Lightning Motors has just released a video of their LH4 hybrid’s maiden voyage, and while they claim it’s inspired by the corvette, I say this THING is about as Corvette-inspired as the new Charger is a faithful recreation of the original. It looks sort of like someone kicked an EV-1 in the butt. It also, just like the post on Autoambush says, sounds a little like a TR7 with a rusted-out silencer. The technology sounds cool though, a TDI motor paired to a hydraulic hybrid system, and the ugly carbon fiber body does look slippery. Hopefully the money they don’t spend on videos goes towards polishing the final product

Short skirts blamed for summer car accidents
It is true. Brit-brit climbing out of a car sans knickers is actually the anti-christ and like swamp people who’ve been visited by Satan in the depths of a Louisiana crick, a recent poll of British men finds that short skirts are to blame for evil. Nearly one third of the leerers polled claimed that their wandering eyes resulted in their increase of accidents during the summertime. Sounds like Burqa time!

Why you should never trust a magazine cover
It may not be apparent to the general public, but syndicated content has a huge presence in the magazine publishing world. I experienced this act of editorial planning first-hand while holding the associate editor title at Winding Road magazine, and now, a fluke of syndicated selling has led to quite an interesting newsstand sight. Britain’s CAR magazine sold the rights to its glamorous supercar comparison test to Germany’s Auto Bild and Automobile magazine right here in the U.S., with all three publications running the exact same photo on their covers. Yikes. Nevertheless, it’s a great story, and now you have three ways to read about McLaren’s new hotness taking on the world.

HP chasing cars and appliances
It’s no secret, today’s cars are loaded, NO, bloated with technology.  Things like yaw-angle sensors, adaptive cruise control, tire-pressure monitors, voice activation, the list goes on and on.  OEM tech companies like Microsoft and others provide the software and hardware that backs up these whiz-bang features.  A day late and a hundred dollars short, computer company Hewlett-Packard is trying to get manufacturers to adopt its webOS operating system for cars and appliances.  Why a dishwasher needs touch-screen controls or a 3G connection is beyond me.  HP claims automakers can benefit from its system’s familiar interface and ease-to-use controls, but OEMs ain’t buying it . . . literally.  With other tech companies already dominating this sector it’s hard to imagine anyone actually putting webOS on the road.  Plus, with the lead time in the auto industry, companies will not want to switch suppliers and re-code all of their software.  FAIL!  And Ben doesn’t care because it’s not Apple . . . moving on . . .

Dodge Omni GLH ad brings out the child in us all
We’ve dredged up a OMNI ad that’is like the awesome, ‘80s half-ass version of that amazing “Toys” commerical by Nissan, after a detour through the equally famous “Cocaine Factory” Plymouth Duster MTV ad.There’s a kid, playing with a model of an Omni, converting it to GLH spec with plastic model kit parts (just like the original!). Also, apparently all you need to make something look high-performance in the ‘80s was a dark background, some fog, and a spotlight. Not that I don’t love the ad, or the car–the Omni is pretty awesome in that terrible/wonderful way. Just be glad they don’t make any claims about 0-50 times.

Flywheel bicycle: KERS for pedal-pushers
It isn’t the Copenhagen wheel by any means but it could be. (sad reference for those of us who still watch Weeds) It also isn’t the Lexus hybrid bicycle that they keep rolling out when they have nothing else to show at auto shows. It is however, exactly like those 2 previous inventions only a student at Cooper Union has presented it as if it were new. Adding a flywheel to a bike that saves your energy from your pedaling for a later little “push” is .. well, let’s just say he will gradutate but perhaps he should have resurrected the “How a Volcano Works” experiment.

A car that could go 1,000,000 miles without refueling
Fascinating story from the Cars.com Kicking Tires blog.  A Connecticut-based company could hold the key to our future power needs.  Researchers believe they’ve found a way to run a car for 1,000,000 miles WITHOUT refueling it, and they’re doing it with nuclear physics.  Now I know what you’re thinking: Hiroshima, Chernobyl, Fukushima.  But the lab-coat wearing scientists believe they’ve got the radiation problem licked.  Enter the element thorium: atomic number 90.  It’s an abundant substance that’s much safer than uranium.  How do researchers think they can power a car with it?  Well, NOT with a nuclear reactor.  They plan to heat a small amount of the material with a laser beam, which would get it super hot but not enough to start fizzling.  The heat would in turn be used to boil water in a closed system to make steam, which would turn a small turbine and run a generator.  Pretty simple.  And safe.  All that’s needed is a stainless-steel box with three-inch thick walls to contain the tiny amounts of radiation emitted by the super-heated thorium.  Why aren’t we using the element right now?  Steps need to be taken to miniaturize powertrain systems and work has to be done to make thorium easier and cheaper to refine.

Audi Q7 pickup truck is the real deal
Recently, BMW made our heads spin when it released images of an M3-turned-pickup truck, created as a one-off special edition. We know Ze Germans would never do something as crazy as turn an M3 into a proper Ute, and now Audi joins in on the fun with this, its Q7 pickup. As you’d expect, the rear passenger and cargo compartments have been lobbed off of the big German crossover, and the end result is something that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Porsche, we’re ready for our Panameramino now.

The original bridge to nowhere
In the great tradition of bridges to span oceans and not just rivers, the Øresund Bridge connecting Sweden to Norway allows ships to pass with ease only if a drawbridge is upsetting to your weak constitution like it is to Craigy’s, this bridge might turn your socks even a little tighter as it SINKS to allow the ships to cross. And Craigy is being sick in the corner….

Mini-Brabus smart with SLR-like nose
There are few things in this world that I hate more than the Smart ForTwo. It’s ugly, impractical, horrible to drive, and surprisingly inefficient for its size. This sort of car may work in Europe, but here in the States, it’s just a huge pile of, well, I think we have a sound effect that best sums it up. [PLAY SOUND] Still, there are people out there who lack things like common sense and reasoning, and the Smart has sold to a few unlucky idiots. What’s worse, though, is that people have taken to customizing the damn things, as our friends at Carscoop have recently proven. One of their readers spotted a Smart ForTwo all gussied up with the Brabus treatment, SLR McLaren-inspired nose decals, and – wait for it – LED lights around the  custom tailpipes. I’d love to tell you more, but I’ve got business to attend to. These eyes won’t stab themselves out, after all.

DIY jet completes first flight
You know what every driveway needs? A tiny, homebuilt jet. Well, I’m not 100% convinced about the plane part, but I’m totally fascinated by the idea of a tiny turbojet. Autopia’s got the scoop on the Sonex SubSonex jet, a cleverly-named (or too clever by half-ly named) kit plane that sort of looks like the Messerschmit Me 163 Komet’s dorky little brother. This thing weighs 45 lbs. and puts out 247 lbs of thrust! And it sounds like a legitimate jet, none of this turbofan nonsense. Plus, it’s built in the Czech Republic–birthplace of the Tatra. How could it not be good? I think the best use of this jet engine would be a tiny Chrysler Turbine Car replica, but then again, I might just be crazy.

Stupid Truck Trick

Tug-of-war goes horribly wrong

Versus

Pick #1

Pick #2

Pick #3

Bonus Pick


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