Whether you are a new driver or an old pro, jumping behind the wheel of a new car with a standard transmission can be intimidating if you’re a first timer. All it takes is a little practice and before you know it you’ll be wanting to spin laps at the local track.
The video explains it all…Remember, practice makes perfect!
The great American road trip is something that we need to get back to doing on a regular basis. There really is nothing like spending some time with the road, exploring new places and getting away for a few days. Here in Texas, we’re privileged to have a ton of great destinations all within a few hours of driving. There’s an abundance of lakes, national parks and major metropolitan areas that give you the chance to experience a world of cultures, fun and outdoor activities. This week, we’re focused in on Corpus Christi. A 7 hour drive from us here in Grapevine, but well worth the drive.
Approximately 150 miles south east of San Antonio, down Interstate 37, is any beach lover’s dream. Not only is Corpus Christi one of the premier spring break attractions, it’s also well-known for it’s year round warm weather. Being situated on the Gulf Of Mexico gives it plenty of beachfront property where you can rent a cabin, tow an RV or just camp out on the beach. For anyone who loves being on the beach, this is the place to be! Water skiing, fishing, and boating are just a few reasons to get to the bay!
Don’t discount Corpus Christi if you aren’t a beach-goer, though, there’s plenty to do when you’re in town! The bay is home to the USS Lexington, which is the oldest remaining aircraft carrier in the world! Having been a few times, it’s amazing seeing the inner-workings of those massive ships!
There’s also the Texas State Aquarium and the Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens and Nature Center which are popular attractions. If you’re a hunter, then you’ll enjoy hunting for duck, geese, dove and white-tailed deer.
Of course, you’ll want to avoid Corpus Christi around the time of Spring Break (unless you really want to) to avoid major crowds.
What do you think of Corpus Christi? Have you been?
I love the 4th of July! You get to meet up with your friends and family, head over to the park, throw some beef on the barbie, and watch the kids spin themselves up waiting and waiting and waiting for the sun to go down so they can oooooo and ahhhhh at the fireworks. What a great holiday and what a great reason to have one. This is the 239th years since we told Ol’ King George that we just weren’t going to take it anymore, and that it was our steadfast belief that everybody was born equal, every one was born free, and we all come “with certain unalienable rights”. Do you realize how rare that concept is? 239 years ago Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and a couple other guys wrote that concept down on paper FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MANKIND’S HISTORY. For all the previous millennia people were subjects, born owing their masters, their governments, their monarch a debt…themselves. There was no choice in the matter , you were a ruler or you were ruled.
But in the last 239 years the concept of personal freedom has been one that has been incredibly difficult to squash. Even under the most brutal of dictatorships, the idea of freedom blossoms. Adolf Hitler couldn’t kill it, Josef Stalin couldn’t kill it, Mao Tse Tung couldn’t kill it, and certainly not by more modern tyrants like North Korea’s Kim family.
America is a young country, America has certainly stumbled along the way, but more often than not the American PEOPLE have been as accepting and as willing to right the wrongs of the past as any you could hope for, it’s just a shame that the people we elect don’t do likewise with as much speed and good intent. So grab a hot dog, a beer, and a lawn chair and let’s all enjoy the FABULOUS FOURTH!
Not many of you may know, but Buick built over 74,000 Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial engines for the Army Air Corps during WWII. These engines were air cooled, 14 cylinder (two rows of 7), and ranged between the 800 hp of the -1’s to 1350hp of the -94’s. They were called the Twin Wasp because the original Pratt & Whitney Wasp series of engines were single row radial engines, meaning that had one row of cylinders radiating from around the crankshaft.
The official name was the P&W R-1830, denoting a Radial engine of 1830 cubic inches. They were mounted to the two most produced US aircraft of the entire war: the Consolidated B-24 Liberator which mounted four Twin Wasps, and the Douglas DC-3/C-47 which mounted two. The high production numbers of those two aircraft caused the R-1830 to be the most widely produced aircraft engine in history with a total production run above 173,000!
Buick began building the engines at a government owned plant in Melrose Park, just west of Chicago, IL. The engines Buick built were exclusively for use on the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber, and comprised 43% of total 1830 production! Over 18,000 B-24’s were built during the course of the war and were flown in every theater of that conflict. The B-24 had a fairly long post-war career as well being used to haul freight, aerial mapping (pre-satellites baby!), as well as flying suppression of wildfires by the naval variant (PB4Y Privateer) all the way into 2002!
Buick’s Twin Wasp engines are STILL out there in the world 70 years later, hauling freight in the US, Central America, South America, Alaska, Africa, Asia, and anywhere that the old DC-3 is still operating. Who wold have thought that a product built and delivered for wartime would have such a long and successful peacetime career?
Did you know that GMC built a V-12 engine? They sure did, and despite the name “Twin Six” it was NOT two V-6’s bolted together. It was actually one long case, with FOUR V-6 heads mounted to it! Now why on God’s Green Earth would GMC build such a monstrous engine you ask? To mount in the tractor trucks used to haul Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. For real!!
In 1963 GMC designed special purpose tractors to haul the Boeing Transporter/Erector semitrailers used to haul the Minuteman I missiles. The trailers were 65 feet long, 10 feet wide, 13 feet high, had over 8,000 cubic feet of space, weighed almost 25,000 pounds when EMPTY, and they cost a whopping $700,000 1963 US Dollars each! The GMC tractor provided all the power to not only move this massive trailer, but also to run the climate control and air conditioning both during road journeys and while stored.
Of course those days of mutually assured destruction have faded somewhat, and the nuclear weapon proliferation hopefully has subsided…but those Twin Six V-12’s are popping up in rat rods and custom built speedsters the world over! An outfit in Australia for example has built a fiberglass Roadster with one of these humongous beasts up front. The engine is so long that the frame had to be cut and lengthened to be able to get the V-12 mounted. According to the hot rod shop, the Twin Six as mounted to their Roadster has an RPM redline of 2400 so the horsepower output is fairly anemic for the weight and only comes in at 275 hp. But, the that low RPM engine wasn’t made for whining screaming 14,000 RPMs like those Kawasakis and Hondas, no sir, this husky sucker was made to PULL. And brother, pull it does. Because at only 1600 RPM, this baby puts out over 630 ft/lbs of torque. So if you ever need a Roadster looking hot rod to pull your house over to the next block, well baby we have the engine for you!
The Pursuit Special. The V8 Interceptor. One of the most recognizably classic movie cars of all time, one that made an appearance in three movies across 36 years: Mad Max, The Road Warrior, and Fury Road. The car is a product of dystopian times, that goes on to become a product of post-apocalyptic times. Mel Gibson’s character Max Rockatansky is initially given the car as an inducement to remain with the Main Force Police, and ultimately the car is destroyed in Road Warrior only to be resurrected in Fury Road to be wrecked restored and demolished again. Other than Max Himself, the Pursuit Special is the only character to be in three movies of the series.
The Pursuit Special began life as a 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT, which were only produced by Ford Australia from 1973-1976. It featured a 351 cu in V8, and was the last GT built by Ford Australia until 1992. For the movie the Falcon was modified with 8 individual exhaust stacks mounted behind the lower rear edge of the door, a dummy supercharger which protruded through the hood, and for Road Warriors…two large fuel tanks were installed in place of the trunk. Of course if you remember the movies, the “supercharger” was activated by the red switch Max flips at exactly the right moment, as well as the car being rigged with a series of booby traps to prevent the fuel being stolen.
After production wrapped on the original Mad Max in 1979, the car was sold off to help pay bills incurred from the film’s production. It was reacquired for Road Warriors and then sold off again. It was in the Cars of the Stars Museum in England for many years before being purchased in 2011 by the Dezer Collection Car Museum in Miami, FL. So, if you’d like to see if the dust is still covering the Interceptor, if a dingo is sitting in the passenger seat, and wether or not the booby traps are still installed, then a trip to Florida is a must!
Well folks it’s summertime here in Texas, the April Showers which seem to have started in February and lingered until June seem to have finally wandered off somewhere, school is out, and families are hitting the road. So I thought today we could discuss that 1983 classic educational film on “How Not To Vacation”…National Lampoon’s Vacation.
The poor Griswolds. How they suffer. From being saddled with unexpected family, to Wally World being closed for repairs when they finally arrive, to dragging that poor lil pooch a couple miles, the Griswolds stumble their way through a typical swing-and-a-miss style family vacation that more than likely every single one of us has been on at some point in our lives. Like Spinal Tap was to professional musicians, so is Vacation to the art of family travel.
BUT, the star of Vacation is of course the fictional, awful, hideous, piece-of-crap Wagon Queen Family Truckster. “You think you hate it now? Wait til you drive it.” snarky, greasy, crooked-as-a-left-handed-football-bat salesman Eugene Levy mutters under his breath. You see, the day before the family is supposed to leave for California, Clark Griswold arrives at the car lot to pick up his Antarctic Blue Super Sports Wagon with the CB and the optional Rally Package, but is tricked and extorted into driving off in the Metallic Pea Wagon Queen Family Truckster…which of course is the largest lemon vehicle in the history of lemons. And vehicles.
The Wagon Queen Family Truckster started out life as a Ford LTD Country Squire that was modified to be a sarcastic, cynical comment on all those huge, hideous, “tricked out with options” lemons being foisted on the American public in the late 70’s. This thing has EIGHT headlights, and is absolutely covered in fake wood paneling. The grill hardly even exists, and has two tiny lil slits in it, so you know the engine runs nice and warm…all the way across the American Southwest. In the summertime. Needless to say, failures ensue!
Everybody remember the movie Smokey and the Bandit? Burt Reynolds’ tour de force featuring Sally Field, Jerry Reed, and of course The Great One Himself…Mr Jackie Gleason. Well, the main star of that movie was the black and gold 1977 Pontiac Trans Am that Burt Reynolds used to terrorize a host of Mid-South law enforcement allegedly from Texarkana all the way to the Southern Classic in Georgia. Believe it or not, the film was so successful it actually caused Trans Am sales to double in the two years after the movie was released!
Well, the 1977 Trans Am is still one of the most famous movie cars of all time, right up there with James Bond’s Aston Martin, Marty McFly’s DeLorean, and Mad Max’s V8 Interceptor. All you need is one glance at a black and gold Trans Am and you’re automatically looking around for an oversized ego in tight pants sporting a thick black mustache and an obnoxiously large cowboy hat.
According to some sources, the cars used in the original Smokey and the Bandit were actually 1976 models sporting 1977 front ends and decals. Four cars were used during filming and all four cars were damaged fairly severely as you could imagine. As a matter of fact, the car used in the jump over the bridge was absolutely totaled. It was even equipped with a boost rocket similar to the one Evel Knievel strapped on in his failed attempt to jump Snake River Canyon. The odd thing about that stunt is that the movie was sooo low budget, the DIRECTOR of the movie drove the car for that stunt!
A few years ago, Ol Burt fell onto hard times (allegedly) and began auctioning off his collection of memorabilia he’s kept over the course of his career. In that auction was his personal 1977 Trans Am that he’d used during the promo tours for Smokey and The Bandit. It sold for $170,000.
Elwood: “It’s got a cop motor, a 440 cubic-inch plant, it’s got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks, and it’s the model made before catalytic converters so it’ll run good on regular gas. Is it the new Bluesmobile or what?”
Jake: “Fix the cigarette lighter.”
The 1974 Dodge Monaco used in The Blues Brothers might be the most famous movie car of all time. More famous than the DeLorean from Back To The Future, more famous than Herbie the VW Bug, definitely more famous than Eddie Murphy’s beat-to-hell Chevy Nova from Beverly Hills Cop, perhaps more famous even than The General Lee from the Dukes of Hazard franchise.
It makes it’s debut in the opening scene of the movie when Dan Akroyd’s character Elwood Blues arrives at Joliet Correctional Center to pick up his brother Jake (John Belushi) on his release from prison. Jake of course expresses shock and disbelief that his own brother would pick him up from prison in a police car! According to Elwood, he picked it up at a Mount Prospect, Illinois police auction where “they were practically giving them away”. The duo accepts a “mission from God” to get their old band back together and raise enough money to pay the back taxes on the orphanage where they were raised. Their car seems to have magic powers and helps them all the way to the bitter end of the movie when it disintegrates into a hundred pieces. It may indeed be a magical car, but the cigarette lighter doesn’t work!!
The film utilized 13 separate ’74 Dodge Monacos, some of them tricked out for stunts, some of them stripped down for speed, and of course one set up to completely fall apart. All of them were purchased as surplus from the California Highway Patrol, and at one point during the final chase scene the speedometer indicates 120 mph and according to director John Landis, that speed was accurate!
Back in 1981 Columbia Pictures released an Ivan Reitman film called Stripes which starred Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. The movie was about a couple of guys who had less than stellar lives, and after seeing an Army recruitment poster with the tagline “Be All You Can Be” they decided to join up hoping to improve their lot. Hijinks ensue. Murray and Ramis stumble their way through basic training, but ultimately impress a general at graduation who picks them to work on his secret EM-50 project in Italy.
The EM-50 is a fictional military project for an “Urban Assault Vehicle” based on a 1976 GMC Motorhome Palm Beach model. In the movie it’s all tricked out with machine guns, flame throwers, rocket launchers, armor, and a communications and navigation center. Murray and Ramis, plus girlfriends, wander into Czechoslovakia by accident and when their platoon tries to rescue them and are captured by the Russians, the EM-50 armed duo comes to the rescue to much fanfare and acclaim.
Who knew a GMC Motorhome could do so much? The funny thing is, the GMC Motorhome is the only purpose-built motorhome ever built by a major car and truck manufacturer alongside their regular line of vehicles. Most other Motorhomes are either built by specific recreational vehicle manufacturers or converted from pre-existing designs by third parties. The GMC Motorhome was a design innovator by not only being a front wheel drive RV, but also featuring dual axle rear wheels. Over 12,000 of these Motorhomes were ultimately built between 1973 and 1978, and there are an estimated 9000 still on the road! Even after a 37 year gap since they were in production, their fuel efficiency compared to other RV’s of similar size and weight has kept them competitive. They came in either 23 or 26 foot lengths and have been restored and repurposed over the years until they’ve been described as that “26-foot, 12,000-pound antique hot rod with plumbing.”