Category Archives: Auto

Smart Parking Meters Will End Free Rides And Fun

If you pull up to a parking meter and there is still time left, it’s like a stranger left you a wonderful gift. A stranger that you’ll never be able to thank. Well, some soulless folks are looking to end your free ride forever.

These new parking meters from Photo Violations Technologies basically make parking enforcement officers obsolete. They have cameras in them that can sense if a car is in a spot. If the meter expires and you haven’t refilled it yet, it will actually take a picture of your license plate and then give you the option to pay your fine on the spot.

But even worse, your free ride is over. If you see someone pull out of a spot and they still have time on the meter, the meter will reset to 0 before you pull in.

That is some hogwash right there. Basically, the town that installs the meters is taking the extra 15 minutes or whatever that was left and keeps it for themselves. Then they charge you again. Smart of the towns to make money on parking fines and such, sad for people that need to park in villages.

(Hat Tip to Bret!)

The Most Ridiculous Special License Plates Available Today



It wasn’t so long ago that everyone got pretty much the same license plate. If you had a truck, maybe you got a simpler design, or a different numbering format. But there was no way to tell the driver in front of you was, say, a friend of the wild turkey, unless he had a bumper sticker. Or a wild turkey riding shotgun.

Things have changed. Now, you don’t need to spend time with a wild turkey for everyone to know you’re friends. Instead, you can show your support with a license plate. In fact, you can now get a license plate for virtually any cause, from the wild turkey to “Friends of Tibet.” Yes, Virginia: I’m looking at you.

I’ve outlined some of the more ridiculous ones below. Surely, I’ve missed a few.

Alabama: First to the Moon


Photo credit: plateshack.com

Alabama contains the Marshall Space Flight Center, which is a huge NASA research facility. Presumably, this license plate is intended to bring awareness to it. Instead, it says “First to the Moon … and Beyond,” which seems inspired by Buzz Lightyear. It also implies the entire state of Alabama was the first to visit the moon. Speaking for the rest of the country, we wish they hadn’t left.

Florida: Imagine



Florida residents openly admit their state has a lot of ridiculous license plates. For example, a pro-fishing design with the subtle, bondage-themed legend “Catch Me, Release Me.” Or – I swear this is real – a “Trees Are Cool” plate that shows the driver’s support for trees, and, apparently, shade. With all the choices, you’d think it would be hard to pick the most ridiculous, but it’s actually quite easy: behold, the Florida “Imagine” license plate. Yes, it pays homage to John Lennon. Does it support gun control? Music education? No: the money goes to Florida food banks.

Idaho: Stop for School Buses


Photo credit: plateshack.com

I think we can all agree that when a school bus displays its stop sign, the best thing to do is stop. But how many of us feel passionate enough about school bus stop signs to spend $60 for a special license plate honoring them? Imagine if all traffic laws had a special license plate. “Georgia: Promoting Awareness of Right Turn on Red.”

Maryland: Literally Everything There Is


Photo credit: Licensepl8s.com

In Maryland, a non-profit group can get a special license plate as long as 25 different people sign up. Although I’m sure hate groups are banned, it appears there are no other actual rules. Which is why there are license plates for things like the Sons of Norway, or the Annapolis Woodworkers, or the Poe’s Crows Club, or my favorite, shown above: the Dental Hygenists’ Association. That is one happy tooth.

Montana: Teepee Capital of the World


Photo credit: plateshack.com

Apparently, Montana is the teepee capital of the world. Before you call this one out for racism, it’s actually issued by an Indian tribe, apparently proud of their teepee-erecting skills. Other bad Montana issues include “Call Before You Dig” with a chipmunk holding a shovel and “Montana’s Treasures,” which refers to old people and includes an image of one sitting in a rocking chair. Heartwarming, really.

Nevada: Supporting Healthcare


Photo credit: plateshack.com

I don’t intend to get political. But I do intend to get upset if political license plates start becoming a trend. Aren’t bumper stickers enough? Nevada claims this plate is intended to show a driver’s support for healthcare professionals, meaning it’s not political – just poorly worded. This wouldn’t be their first license plate with strange verbiage. The agriculture plate, for example, uses the slogan – I swear this is true – “People Grow Things Here.” Presumably, this includes marijuana.

North Carolina: Watermelon


Photo credit: plateshack.com

Somehow, this exists. Beyond the racial undertones, I have to ask why North Carolina feels it necessary to memorialize a fruit on a license plate. And it’s a rather boring design, considering that it’s just North Carolina’s regular license plate but with a large watermelon on the left side. Then again, this is a state that has a license plate for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, perhaps forgetting exactly where the Rocky Mountains are located.

Pennsylvania: Save Wild Animals


Photo credit: plateshack.com

I’ve always loved this plate, which is designed to support the Pennsylvania zoos. But rather than say something like “Support Pennsylvania Zoos,” it says “Save Wild Animals.” This in itself wouldn’t be so bad, except it features a photograph of a Bengal Tiger. When was the last time you saw a wild Bengal Tiger in Pennsylvania?

South Carolina & Virginia: Jimmy Buffett Fan


Photo credit: plateshack.com

Both South Carolina and Virginia offer full-color “Parrothead” license plates indicating the owner is a fan of singer Jimmy Buffett. This is completely real. You can walk into a South Carolina or Virginia DMV today, sit down at the window and say: “I love Jimmy Buffett. How can I express myself?” It’s only a matter of time before there’s a Belieber license plate.

Texas: Advertising



Texas is trying to make some big money from their plates. So, to spur people to pay extra for colorful optional plates, they changed the normal design to simple black and white. Then they began allowing private companies to get their own plates. Like Ford, as you see above. Others include Dr. Pepper and Carl’s, Jr., whose Texas plate has a photo of a very appetizing double cheeseburger. Truly.

Virginia: Robert E. Lee


Photo credit: plateshack.com

Ah, Virginia. Initially, we only think about the DC suburbs and your beautiful Atlantic beaches. Then, you remind us there’s still a whole other state out there, and it’s full of good ol’ boys just trying to live in Robert E. Lee’s footsteps. Here’s one way to do it: with a license plate that actually proclaims the confederate general as “The Virginia Gentleman.”

So: what have I missed?

Robyn — ‘Indestructible’

Traffic sucks, so why not start your morning off with some music? You provide the toast and we’ll provide the jams.

I like a good pop song. It’s hard to construct one that stands out without becoming some sort of art project that’s neither good pop nor good music. Robyn probably creates the best songs that stand up as exemplar versions of both.

Warning, the video gets a little hot and heavy.

Insane 1996 Saab Does 174 MPH At The Texas Mile

I like the Texas Mile because it’s big and crazy, just like an event in my home state ought to be. There’s the record-breaking runs from the Hennessey Venom GT and other cars with horsepower in the four digit range, plus ridiculous wild cards like this: a 1996 Saab 900 that made it to a staggering 174 mph.

You read that right. 174 mph. In a Saab that’s almost 20 years old and still looks basically stock.

This Swedish land missile’s 2.0-liter four was running on E85 ethanol gas and had an upgraded Garrett turbo, a custom tune and other goodies to make it put down 465 horsepower, presumably going to the front wheels. It was fast enough to hit 143.7 mph at the half-mile mark before going all the way to 174.

Kudos to whoever built this monster sleeper, and especially to the sumbitch who was brave enough to get behind the wheel and take it to that speed. Everything’s bigger in Texas, even our Saabs.

Hat tip to Autoblog!

Man Shoots Himself In The Head At NRA 500

Yesterday during the National Rifle Association-sponsored NRA 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway, it was reported that a man died in the infield. Today, the medical examiner has determined the cause of death to be suicide. Kirk Franklin, 42, of Saginaw, Texas, shot himself in the head. The Associated Press (via USA Today) with more:

Fort Worth police have said a man who was camping in the infield died of a "self-inflicted injury" after getting into an argument with other campers. The incident happened late in the Sprint Cup race.

Police spokeswoman Cpl. Tracey Knight has said alcohol may have been a factor. Knight said several people witnessed the incident, but nobody was in danger.

Track spokesman Mike Zizzo say the death occurred "in or around a pickup truck" in part of the infield near the middle of the backstretch.

The National Rifle Association has yet to issue a statement on the Franklin’s death, though the incident will likely further stoke the country’s already-contentious gun debate.

[USA Today]

Photo Credit: Getty

The Free Forza Horizon ’1000 Club’ Is How They’ll Get You To Keep Playing

Curious about that secret announcement earlier this week that hinted Forza Horizon was suddenly going to get a lot more interesting? Thanks to an an early leak we know it’s an expansion pack that will add two new cars and 1000 new challenges. Oh, and it’s free.

If all you care about is finishing a game as quickly as possible, then Forza Horizon is going to last about as long as most of your sexual experiences. By ignoring the street race challenges, barn finds, and special races, you can skip straight through to the main event and complete the game in an afternoon. If you do that, you’re missing the fun of all the smaller races (many of which are better than the actual races).

In response to this, Turn10/Playground is adding a challenge-per-car such as using a Raptor to crash through as many objects as possible, or jumping an Evo over a golf course.

Plus, after all the complaints over the company shortchanging the players with DLCs full of cars you can get in previous Forza games (except for the perfect Jalopnik DLC), the people behind the game are apparently giving it out for free and throwing in the 1995 RUF CTR2 (essentially a modified 993) and a 1956 F100.

As someone who just hit the "you’ve driven every road" mark, I’m thinking this is well timed. We’ll see on Tuesday if this is how it goes.


Forza Horizon 1000 Club Expansion Pack by All-Games-Beta

The Time Before Jaguar Was Cool

Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we’ve got reports from AutoWeek, Curbside Classics, Hemmings, and The Truth About Cars.

The Cars Of "It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World"Curbside Classics

Jonathan Winters died earlier today, so we thought it would be a good time to look back at all the mad mad mad mad cars that made mad mad mad mad appearances.

This fun, madcap film would be great even without all the Curbside Classics onscreen. But the fanciest and rarest four-wheeled star (only 554 built), was J. Russell Finch’s (Milton Berle) light blue ’62 Crown convertible with pearl white leather interior.

Too Rich For Royalty: The 1932 Bugatti RoyaleHemmings

This is so much luxury. Too much luxury, even. Welcome to the Bugatti Royale.

The car of superlatives: Largest, most expensive, biggest engine.

When Jaguar Tried To Be Cool And FailedThe Truth About Cars

Jaguar wasn’t always doing everything right. In the early 1990s, their supercars looked promising, but ultimately were failures in more ways than one.

The same thought process also led Jaguar to build two disastrously underwhelming 1990s supercars. To no one’s surprise, they didn’t sell, which should’ve been a telltale sign that Jaguar should stay out of the supercar business.

Most American Made 2013 CarsAutoWeek

A lot of American cars aren’t made in America anymore. But then again, some of the most American cars are made here. AutoWeek has the breakdown of what’s going on:

Domestic brands have the most American-made content in the United States according to a new index released by American University’s Kogod School of Business. Professor Frank DuBois, a global supply chain management expert, led the analysis, which considered not only where each vehicle’s parts were produced, but also the location of the manufacturer’s headquarters and other details, all in an effort to help consumers buy American.

If you have something that we just have to read, send it to tips@jalopnik.com with the subject "Must Read." Then we’ll read it, and you’ll have the good feeling of enriching our lives.

New Domestic Trailer for Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’

Even more giddy goosebumps than the first trailer.

For anyone who missed it, here is a link to the first trailer: http://jalopnik.com/if-the-ron-how…

Do Car Comparison Tests Mean Anything?

Car comparison tests are among the most popular reviews you find on the Internet or in car magazines. Does anyone actually listen to them though?

When Sam Smith of Road & Track asked for advice and requests for upcoming issues, reader seanxr replied with this call for more creative juxtapositions.

Comparison tests outside of market segment. Instead of an SUV comparo that starts with the typical "You considered a mini-van, but wanted …" compare the best minivan to the best SUV for the purposes of basic family hauling. As an involved driver, what’s the better solution to hauling a bunch of people and cargo. Instead of complaining about how luxury SUVs have killed off station wagons, test the best luxury performance SUV against the Mercedes AMG wagon. As an involved driver, …

You get the point. Don’t be limited to how the car companies categorize their wares.

Have you ever made a buying decision based on a comparison test, or are they just there to draw up fanboy rage when one car gets picked over another?

Photo Credit: Alexandre Prévot

More, Better shots of the Lykan HyperSport

I wrote a post yesterday when the super expensive hypercar was unveiled yesterday in Kuwait. It got a lot of steam. Some of the commentators wanted to see better pictures of it. A friend of mine who was with me during the unveiling had some awesome shots to share with ya’ll. These offer better angles to look at than, say, the pictures I posted yesterday.

All photo credits go to Montaser Ali. Thanks.