Activists decry the automobile’s impact upon the environment, but few take time to consider what life was like in the days before motor vehicles came along
More than 500 tons of horse manure was collected from the streets of New York City daily in the early 1890s, according to the above video by the New-York Historical Society and NYC Media.
That’s 1 million pounds of road apples, for those of you scoring at home.
All that horse hockey was produced by 62,000 horses in 1,300 stables, according to Jean Ashton of the New York Historical Society.
It was taken – with human waste – to the aptly named “Barren Island,” where it was reduced to fertilizer.
In addition to the horrible stench that emanated from the horse manure and urine, the waste products were obvious breeding grounds for insects and disease.
Confirming what many who have been stuck in the legendary traffic jams of India have long suspected, at least one German carmaker revealed recently that it makes special horns for cars destined for the Asian subcontinent.
“Obviously for India, the horn is a category in itself,” Michael Perschke, director at Audi India, told Monday’s Mint newspaper.
“You take a European horn and it will be gone in a week or two,” he added. “With the amount of honking in Mumbai, we do on a daily basis what an average German does on an annual basis.”
Perschke said the horns are specially adapted for driving conditions in India, a booming market where Audi is one of many foreign car brands competing for increasingly wealthy customers, Agence France-Presse reported.
“The horn is tested differently – with two continuous weeks only of honking, the setting of the horn is different, with different suppliers,” he said.
Roads in India are often in poor repair, ranging from pot-holed major highways to dirt tracks in cities, while bullock carts, cows, rickshaws and bicycles often compete with cars and trucks for space.
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of America’s great entrepreneurs and the founder of General Motors, William Durant.
Durant gained famed as the founder of GM, a multi-brand holding company with different lines of cars designed to appeal to consumers of varying economic means.
Durant was the grandson of a former governor of Michigan and his chief interest was business. Instead of attending college he choose to go to work in his grandfather’s lumber business, one of the largest of the many large lumber mills in Flint, Mich, according to Arthur Pound’s book The Turning Wheel: The Story of General Motors Through Twenty-Five Years, 1908-1933.
He then branched out by opening his own insurance agency before he was 21.
“That suited him, because insurance was something you could go out and sell,” Pound writes. “No waiting around for customers to come to you, as in the store. An almost feverish activity possessed him. ‘Billy’ Durant above everything needed action. While possessed of a notable faculty for remaining calm in the midst of alarms, he seemed to require dramatic tension in business. Yet he had also the power of concentrating intently on work.”
At least one effort by luxury automaker Porsche has apparently not panned out.
The famed Germany sports car manufacturer is selling Schloss Bullachberg castle in Bavaria, purchased five years ago, a spokesman for the company said on Sunday.
“We are parting company with this estate,” the spokesman told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
Porsche had purchased the castle five years ago, under previous boss Wendelin Wiedeking, hoping to transform the almost 600,000-square-foot building, located near the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, into a luxury hotel.
For all the talk about hybrids and hydrogen-powered cars, a more interesting prospect may lay somewhere in the not-too-distant future – nuclear-powered vehicles.
The publication All Car Tech recently ran an article that described an idea being considered by Connecticut-based Laser Power Systems.
It involves powering cars with thorium, a lightly radioactive heavy metal thought to be fairly common throughout the world.
As with other nuclear fuels it’s incredibly dense and as such stores incredibly high potential energy, according to All Car Tech.
Being a car salesman would appear to among one of life’s more difficult jobs: rejection comes early and often, and salespeople are often the butt of jokes by late-night television hosts, comedians and any number of other folks looking for a quick laugh.
What’s worse than being a car salesman? Being a car salesman in Afghanistan. One imagines that trying to sell new and used vehicles in one of the poorest and most war-ravaged regions of the globe is certainly not a task for the faint of heart.
And the job can involve even more than just trying to overcome the difficulties of selling cars to a populace with little disposable income.
Apparently, a bizarre Afghan phenomenon that equates the number 39 with prostitution has become a headache for the country’s car-sales industry, as buyers are avoiding vehicles with license plates containing the dreaded number for fear of being ostracized, according to Agence-France Presse.
Spartanburg’s Cotton Owens is among more than two dozen stock car legends under consideration for the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame class.
The 2012 class will be selected in June by a 54-member panel, plus a fan vote selected on NASCAR.com, according to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
Other nominees include Timmonsville native Cale Yarborough, Fireball Roberts, Tim Flock, Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick.
Owens first made a name for himself racing modifieds, earning more than 100 wins and capturing titles in 1953 and 1954.
Most of us won’t be in the market for a Ferrari anytime soon, but car aficionados can always dream.
For those who muse about a future filled with torque, horsepower and more speed than a Greatful Dead reunion, there is the Ferrari FF.
The Wall Street Journal has a captivating review of the 2012 Ferrari FF, including a decidedly atypical introduction:
Imagine the Alps, perfected. Each breath tastes of diamonds. Snow-laced massifs vault into a dark-blue sky and green hills cascade to the valleys below, a panoptic of edelweiss and immortality. Here the cowbells play Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and busty women in over-tight dirndls repair the roads.
Now imagine all this upside down, flying past your windshield at 32 feet per second squared as you plunge to your picturesque Alpine death in the Ferrari FF. And everything was going so well.
Tomorrow night in Las Vegas, NASCAR driver Jimmy Johnson will receive his fifth championship trophy in as many years. Decked out in a black tuxedo, he’ll also pick up a check for more than $5 million.
Joining Johnson in Las Vegas will be the other Race for the Sprint Cup participants, all of whom also earned several million dollars this past season.
Included in Friday night’s festivities will be the Viva ELVIS by Cirque de Soleil acrobats that will feature a 29-foot, 7,000-pound blue suede shoe and nearly 400 Elvis costumes featuring approximately 100,000 crystals. The show calls for hundreds of pairs of shoes and custom wigs, as well.
No doubt about it; NASCAR’s come along way from its early days. It may seem hard to believe that just 50 years ago the sport’s top drivers were lucky to earn $1,000 for a first place finish at a race.