Wet Okole Seat Covers

Wet Okole Seat Covers

“Wet Ass” would seem like a strange name for a new car accessory business, but when the owner of Wet Okole became frustrated with what his wet dogs were doing to his car interior, he thought Okole, the Hawaiian translation would be perfect.  With that out of the way, he set out to create the best seat covers available on the market.  The result is Wet Okole, a custom fitted neoprene cover designed to be waterproof, durable and stylish.

Established in Hawaii, before expanding into the mainland, Wet Okole seats are made from the same material used in wetsuits.

Seat Covers arrive

According to the manufacturer:  Wet Okole covers bottom and back are bonded to half inch thick foam for added comfort and protection. Our boxing neoprene is laminated with nylon on both sides, making it twice as strong. No rubber touches your seat material which is especially important with leather or vinyl seats.

We offer color combinations to match virtually all car interiors. They are easy to install and use high quality quick connect fasteners and Velcro.

Before installation, the seats were destroyed

Our car seat covers are 100% waterproof and fit your seats like a glove. They are hand tailored to fit the seats on each make and model, so you can expect a perfect fit. You will not see wrinkling, looseness or bunching. They will accommodate to the specific features of your seats including head rests, arm rests, switches for power adjustment and lumbar support, and seat-mounted air bags. We manufacture all of our products in the USA using the finest materials.

DO NOT risk yourself or your family with flammable, un-safe, imitation, copycat neoprene seat covers. For the ultimate in protection; while driving in comfort. There is no substitute!  From optional rear pockets, seat heaters, sunglasses pouches, Gun Totes, lumbar support to euro-style piping and sewn in dog leashes. Made for you, for your vehicle in the colors of your choice.

Installed – What a difference!

We are so confident in the quality of our car seat covers that we will repair our products for you and even offer free installation (SoCal/Hawaii). Ask the competition if they will do that! There is a reason Wet Okole continues to be the leader in the industry.

A little aloha, with A LOT of Protection

The extras included with the kit – to keep the seats looking new

I was offered a set of Wet Okole seat covers for my 2007 Mazda Miata.  After checking the website, I ordered a set of front seats, trimmed in black and burnt orange neoprene.  I was offered a selection of options, like map and glasses pouches, rear pockets and even a sewn in dog leash (a great idea), but selected only the base two color without the contrasting trim.  After a short wait, they were in my hands waiting to be installed.

My first impression of the seats was that they were of superior quality.  Everything from the boxing, packaging, directions, marketing material and extras, to the covers themselves was impressive.  The seats are padded, something I did not expect.  The neoprene was different from what I anticipated, and did not have the plastic feeling, instead the feel was softer, much richer than I expected.  These were not the standard covers you put on as a last ditch effort to hide bad upholstery…these were as good as the original upholstery, and I can see people choosing this material over the original in many cases.  They looked more expensive and more factory than many factory seats.  Included in the box was a tool to assist with installation, and bottles of concentrated shampoo, odor eliminator and UV protectant.  It had everything I needed to enjoy these seat covers for the full life of the car.

Another example on a Mazda Miata NC

Installation was slightly more complicated than I expected, but it was by choice.  My Miata is a small car, and I wanted to take extra care to perform a professional install.  I decided to loosen the seats, basically by loosening 4 bolts.  This allowed me enough room to reach into the back, and underneath to install the seats as professionally as I could.  In a matter of minutes, the seats were in, and looked amazing.  It does take some pulling of the material to fit properly, but the web straps provided pulled the covers tight over the originals.  In less than 15 minutes, both sides were done.

The result was really amazing.  Not only are these the best quality seat covers I have ever owned, the fit on the factory seats is excellent.  My Miata has a strange head rest as part of the seat, yet the covers fit perfectly.  In fact, the seats have side impact air bags, which I was not aware of, and the seat covers have an open seam down the side hidden by Velcro to accommodate.  Even the area around the seat belt at the top of the seat is accommodated.  In all, the covers are perfectly measured.  There is no wrinkling, no bunching up of the material, no sliding around when you sit on them.  They are almost as if I had the originals reupholstered.

My overall impression of the seats is that they are absolutely the best covers on the market.  On a scale of 1 to 5, they get a full 5 stars.  Over the period of a week, sitting on them was more comfortable than the originals due in part to the padding, and the look has transformed my car.  In addition, where the leather original seats would scrape and become ripped due to my dog, these seats show no sign of wear after she gets out.  For my convertible, they are the perfect solution.

Wet Okole seat covers custom fit for Jeep

Wet Okole has been amazing during this whole process.  They provided me with outstanding quality seats, custom fit to my specific car, that will last years and provide me with protection and style.  I highly recommend you get a set.

Photos Courtesy of Chris Raymond and Wet Okole.  Article courtesy of Chris Raymond

Braking Bar

Braking Bar

Accidents.  Some are minor, and some are deadly but all of them are expensive.  In the US, nearly one third of all motor accidents are the result of rear-end collisions according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration…the safety guys.  Most of those accidents were caused by distracted driving (texting, reading, eating) and most of the rest are due to speeding.  Texting alone causes 3,000 teens to die each year in car crashes, and rear end collisions happen about 1.7 million times a year on US roadways.

Enter Braking Bar.  Braking Bar was created by a Stanford graduate named Roland Hence.  Hence developed an ingenious and elegant solution based on some very important data.  Mercedes-Benz had been doing studies on rear-end crashes, and concluded that 90% could be avoided if the following driver simply had 1 more second to react.  In other words, drivers do not react quickly enough to normal brake lights.  Think about that for a moment.

What is Braking Bar and how is it a solution to the problem of rear-end crashes?  Braking Bar calls itself an adaptive brake light, designed to get distracted drivers’ attentions faster under urgent braking.  Normally, during braking, your brake lights illuminate normally, but in cases where you brake forcefully Braking Bar adapts by either illuminating very brightly or flashing. Extensive studies show that this technology causes following vehicles to stop up to 19 ft shorter, and thus reduces collision-speeds by up to 22 mph.  Though some vehicles offer adaptive brake lights on their cars, most aftermarket products are expensive and require wiring during installation.  Braking Bar uses an accelerometer, an adhesive, and a battery pack.  There are no wires to connect.

Braking Bar is 3x as visible as your ordinary brake lights, and makes drivers react up to 50% faster…especially when they’re distracted.  As you drive, the built-in motion sensor checks your braking force over 100 times per second. Then, the next time it senses that you’re braking hard – approximately 70% of your maximum braking force depending on your car – it activates the LEDs.  The LEDs have two operating modes: STEADY and PULSE. In STEADY mode, the LEDs output the maximum legal illumination. In PULSE mode, the LEDs also pulsate. Both modes are designed to get maximum attention. The system also has a brightness setting to accommodate window tints as dark as 35% VLT.  The battery has a 4 year lifespan.

I wanted to try Braking Bar, and Frontlane, Inc. was nice enough to send me one.  It arrived quickly, and was ready to use right out of the box.  I was immediately impressed with the design.  Braking Bar looks sleek; almost factory installed and would be perfect for any type of vehicle.  The back opens up to a series of switches that can select intensity, and mode, and the entire unit simply sticks to the rear window with a strong adhesive tape.  It is ingenious.  When I tested the lights, I was shocked to see how bright they really are.  A few minutes for installation on the glass, and I was done.  I have had it on my vehicle for two weeks, and I am truly impressed with the quality and design.  In fact, I can see myself purchasing another for my other cars.  I strongly recommend they create a motorcycle version, as this product can really save lives.

Perfect for any vehicle, but especially SUV’s and trucks.  With its non-permanent installation, it would also be perfect for older cars without a third brake light and classic cars with smaller tail lights.  Since it is adhesive, there is no risk to the long term value of the car.  Braking Bar is an elegant solution to a serious problem.  I highly recommend it.


Lost America

Lost America

This past Friday, I was admitted to the hospital because of a blocked artery in my heart.  After testing, they found a 90% blockage, performed an angioplasty, and then implanted a stent.  The process was tough to deal with, and the recovery may take a week or more.  So, in honor of my battered body, I decided now would be a great time to highlight some photos of useless dead junk, that still looked beautiful.  It’s a metaphor.

These photographs are part of the website and collection of Troy Paiva.  His site, called “Lost America” is full of abandoned places, junk machines, and moonlit landscapes all photographed in striking colors.  The effect is haunting, beautiful, and very eerie.  I absolutely love it.

A photographer since 1989, Paiva’s photographs are amazing, filmed using colored lighting in which time itself is altered.  The effect is unusual, leaving the subject still and dead, but the background alive and surreal.  Much of his work was filmed in the American Southwest, and many of the abandoned buildings have since been destroyed, reinforcing the ghostly effect.

His works are available on his website, and in his two books, “Lost America” 2003, and “Night Vision” 2008.  In addition, his photography has been featured in galleries from New York to San Francisco, and seen in books and magazines across the country.

I first learned of him through a friend’s website, and was amazed at the pictures.  I had spent a lot of time in the southwest, traveling by motorcycle and RV, and visiting all sorts of beautiful abandoned places.  The machines he captures, from aircraft to cars, from ocean liners to trains are all familiar, but now have a dreamlike quality.  They are frozen in time, in the most bizarre poses, forgotten by everyone except the artist.

Each photo conveys a sense of the memories embedded in the item, and the happiness that they once provided.  His shots of a water park in California are sad, but remind me of childhood places I once loved.   His shots of cold war installations, abandoned, are exactly as they were when people walked away.  It transports the viewer back to the past, and to the intensity of the time.  The stark colors give you an eerie feeling of spying, the buildings seem post apocalyptic, and the effect is something akin to a Kubrick movie.

I have been looking for an opportunity to highlight his work for a long time, and am very happy to recommend his website to everyone.  Please take the time to view each of the galleries, buy the book, and purchase a print or two.  I am sure it will be like nothing you have ever seen before.  Thanks again to Troy Paiva, and Lost America.

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond
Photographs courtesy of Lost America

Dyson V6 Car & Boat Vacuum

Dyson V6 Car & Boat Vacuum

Dyson is cool.  Their products are not just different; they are cutting edge and modern.  For me they are the Apple of home appliances, with design and technology that instantly makes you want to buy their products. 


The Dyson V6 Car & Boat vacuum is a handheld vacuum with the amazing Dyson V6 digital motor.  It is the most powerful handheld vacuum on the market, and uses a 2 Tier Radial cyclone design, which creates 15 cyclones that work in parallel to increase airflow and capture more fine dust.  It comes with 6 tools, including a crevice tool, motorized brush tool, hose, and assorted other tools, used to get into all the awkward spaces in your car or boat.  Powered by a redesigned Lithium-Ion fade free battery, it has a charge life of 20 minutes, which is more than enough to clean the inside of a car.  However, if you use the motorized brush attachment, that time is cut to about 6 minutes of charge.  The vacuum is small enough (8.2 X 5.7 X 15.6 inches) to be used without too much effort, and weighs only 3.4 pounds.  The vacuum also has a boost mode which increases the suction (and the noise) considerably.  As with all Dyson handheld vacuums, it comes with a two year warranty


Packaging – The box is pretty standard, and the vacuum and attachments are all nicely packed.  One of the first issues I had was with the accessory tools.  There are six different tools and I had no idea what to do with any of them.  The manual and box show no explanation.    The Dyson website has a section explaining each tool, but none of the photos would load on the site, so I couldn’t tell which tool went with which description.  So Dyson, get to work on your website. It kind of sucks. 


Design – As with every Dyson product, the design is futuristic and cool.  The Vacuum is weighted so it handles well and is not heavy to use.  The clear collection basket lets you easily see when it is full, and the cyclone effect is kind of fun to watch.  One button emptying of the basket means no mess.  All of the attachments snap into place easily, though with nowhere to store them, you need to carry all six attachments out to the car when you use the vacuum, which was slightly annoying.   


Functionality – The vacuum is pretty sweet.  It works just as you would expect, though it is a little loud.  All of the attachments work as expected, and the motorized brush picks up dog hair from places that I have never reached before.  Unlike any other vacuum I have used, the Dyson cleans with one stroke, so it takes less time.  Suction is pretty amazing, and the charge lasts just long enough to get even the most disgusting car clean as a whistle. 


Overall – I love it.  Even with a retail price of $239.99, I think it is a great deal.  Yes, it is more expensive than the others, but the technology and attachments are worth it.  This vacuum is a must have for every garage. 


Rating – On a scale of 1-5, I would rate the Dyson V6 Car & Boat Vacuum as a 5.  Sleek, modern and powerful, this vacuum delivers.    

Article by Chris Raymond

Photos by Chris Raymond and Dyson.com


Strange Brew – The Cars of Buch-t

Strange Brew – The Cars of Buch-t

Of course life is bizzare, the more bizzare it gets, the more interesting it is – David Gerrold
Bech_1937This week, while perusing through the usual car sites, I came across a Wikipedia Commons page that astounded me.  The page was created by a user named Buch-t, and includes hundreds of photographs of cars from museums and events in Germany.  The amazing part is that I only recognized a few of the makes, with the remainder being completely foreign to me.  I pride myself on my classic car knowledge, but many of these cars are alien to me.  Below is a selection of some the oddest.  I challenge everyone to check out the page, and test your classic car knowledge: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Buch-t
1951 Bardahl – Not much can be found about this vehicle, though it is listed in Wikipedia as a Swedish brand.  The company is a subsidiary of Bardahl Oil, maker of popular automotive lubricants used by almost every automaker in the world.  The vehicle must have been a concept, or one off using experience gained in the aerospace or powerboat industries.  It is a strange little car.
1971 BMA Amica – BMA is a very small Italian automaker that built three models of cars from 1971 to 1994.  The Amica was a tricycle with a body made of plastic, complete with hinged doors.  Power came from a 50cc engine.  It reminds me of an amusement park bumper car.
1919 Bobby Alba – This model is also known as the 6CV, and was built by Lucien Bollack from 1920 to 1924.  The company was from France, and part of Automobiles Alba.  It’s a rather cute car for the time.
1950 Ardex – This was called the Microcar, and built by French car maker Ardex.  Founded in 1934, Ardex originally created a cyclecar, which followed the form of the Morgan three-wheeler.  In 1937 they created a four-wheeler that was the cheapest car sold in France, and then added electric and pedal powered cars during WWII.  Once the war was over, electric cars were banned and Ardex continued on until 1955 with this little beauty which sported  4 seats and a single cylinder two-stroke engine.
1971 ARH – ARH was a Spanish automaker from 1969 to 1972.  This Model was called the Condor, and sported a fiberglass body, a four cylinder 1200 cc engine from Simca.  A total of 8 vehicles were built.
1954 Cooper T33 – Cooper is a well known British race car manufacturer with links to the Mini Cooper.  The company is famous for its Formula One and Formula Three cars.  This one is not so famous.
1996 De La Chapelle – Based on the German translation, I am guessing this was a French car maker, specializing in reproductions, similar to Panther.  The car pictured is a concept car based on a Mercedes Benz engine.  The car also made children’s cars, complete with a 4-stroke engine.
1955 Ermini – This was a car maker from Italy, and it created cars based on Alfa Romeo and Fiat chassis, with coachwork designed by everyone from Frua, to Scaglietti to Michelotti.  This car was also the basis for the Devin motorcar, built by Bill Devin.
1939 Georges Irat – This is another obscure French carmaker, operating from 1914 to 1949.
1994 Grecav – This cute little car is from the Italian car maker Grecav.  Again, not much information is available, except in German…but this company took over BMA, maker of the Amica.
1956 Gregoire Sport – Gregoire is another French car maker, building cars from 1947 to 1972.  They created three models of cars, selling only 10-15 copies of the Sport.
1951 Hanomag Partner – This German car maker created the Partner as a concept car.  26 total pre and post production cars were created before they decided to get out of the car industry.  All but one of the cars were destroyed.
2000 Hommell Coupe RS – This car I recognize, since it is a favorite in Grand Turismo 5.  Hommell started building cars in 1990, creating four models until it finally ceased production in 2003.
1907 Lacoste Battmann – This French car maker built cars from 1897 to 1913. The funny name “Battmann” is the reason I included it here.
1968 Marsonetto – This started as a French car maker in 1947, and then owner Mario Marsonetto started building cars in the US from 1957 to 1972.  The model pictured here is called Luciole, designed by Baptise Luciole.  It came with either a Panhard two-cylinder, or a Renault 4-cylinder engine.  I think the design of the rear glass and B pillar makes it a strikingly beautiful example of French design.
1972 Monica 560 – This small French carmaker built cars from 1970 to 1972.  Only 8 production cars were created before the end came.  It reminds me of the DeTomaso Deauville.
Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond


Photos Courtesy of Commons.Wikipedia.org
My Forza Horizon Garage

My Forza Horizon Garage

With the holidays ended, I have decided to take a well deserved break from my usual posts.  One of the reason is a Christmas gift of the new Forza Horizon, which is taking up a lot of my time.  I love racing simulation games, starting out with Grand Turismo on Playstation.  The Forza series is a serious step up in my opinion, and the new “open world” version dubbed “Horizon” is even better.  The game offers the same style racing as Forza 4, but with a more open landscape, set in the beautiful state of Colorado.  As with the other Forza games, there is a design editor feature that allows you to customize the look of the car, but adding graphics and paint.  Here are just a few of the cars in my garage:

I love this car.  It is the old style Challenger, and I updated to reflect the Chris on Cars logo and website colors.  It is available for upload, and surprisingly there have been a few takers. 


BMW Art Cars are another favorite, and this is a pretty good job of recreating the original. 


This is a Pontiac GTO Judge.  I was never a fan of the 1970’s style decals, and decided to update the look to something more modern.


Another car that was hard to update.  This older Datsun is sporting a racing style design a’ la Marlboro racing livery.


This Aston Martin One-77 is one of my favorites.  The white on silver paint scheme is accented by some tribal work on the front and sides.  One cool car.


What do you do with a Land Rover Discovery?  I didn’t see any UN cars in the marketplace, so decided this was a great option for this SUV.


Ferrari F50.  Not my design, but makes the car look fantastic.  The attention to detail on the Blancpain racing livery is outstanding.


This little Fiat 500 is pretty cute with standard Alitalia livery. 


The GMC van is a replica of a Civil Air Patrol van I used to drive.  In real life I rolled it in a curve and almost killed myself. 


This little Citroen is done up in Chris on Cars colors.  Not only is this a great car, but in real life it is a favorite among the tuners in Europe.


The icon of the 1960’s, the Jaguar XKE is reborn as this Eagle GT.  In real life this is a $500K car.  Here in the game I can afford to own it, and have updated it with simple highlights on the exposed fenders.


The Cadillac Escalade is perfect for a fire rescue vehicle, though I am considering redoing it in black with Presidential seals. 


This Audi is one of the few sedans in Forza Horizon, so it was a natual for the Italian police livery.  Of course the Carabinieri would never use a German sedan, but it will have to do until a Alfa sedan is available.


The Jaguar E type coupe is one great car.  Outfitting it in gold and black livery looks pretty cool in the back roads of Colorado.


This Lambroghini Aventador took a long time for me to finish.  I tried to get a shark like appearance, and this is about as close as I could get.  Surprisingly, this is not as popular as I expected among the design buying Forza fans.


Police cars are a big hit in the Forza Horizon marketplace.  I started with a standard black and white car, and then added in this replica of the Massachusetts State Police.  All it needs now is some working lights and a siren.


This Chevrolet Corvette is based on a WWII bomber design.  I especially like the rivets in the aluminum bodywork. 


This Lancia is another design that I purchased.  It is a replica of a rally car, and the attention to detail is pretty amazing.


Forza Horizon is one of the best racing simulators out there, and I am addicted to the design studio.  If anyone is interested in trading designs, or looking me up, my username is roadster2005.  Hope to see you on the roads soon.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of Chris Raymond

BooEnn Sunglasses – Powered by the Sun

BooEnn Sunglasses – Powered by the Sun

BooEnn Sunglasses – Powered by the Sun

Our first new product review for Chris on Cars comes from a company called BooEnn.  The product is a set of smart driving glasses with “anti-collision” lenses that change instantly depending on light.  Powered by a low power consumption solar battery mounted right above the nose, they act to brighten or darken the lenses, depending on conditions.


For a start, the idea is pretty standard.  Many sunglass companies over the years have offered lenses that change with the lighting conditions.  The major difference here is that these lenses are made from a patented flexible LCD material, and the transition is amazingly fast.


Packaging – The box is similar to an iPhone, but lime green in color.  The packaging includes a lime green cleaning cloth, a matching pouch to hold the glasses, and company literature that is badly translated from its original language.  The packaging is in line with the expected price point for the glasses, and has an expensive feel.

IMG_2315 (1)

Specifications – The sunglasses are made from something called Ultra-light Antiskid TR100, according to the company literature, a “light weight, collision-resistant, high temperature-resistant material with no chemical residue release”, which is in line with European requirements for food grade material.  I’m not sure what that means, but it could be soy based or some sort of “green” material.  The lenses are a flexible LCD material made from 13 layers of nano-materials, all designed to improve visibility.


Drive Power: Solar battery

Reaction time(s): ≤0.2

Visible light transmittance(%):≤35%

Ultraviolet rays: UV400

Working temperature(℃):-20—70

Weight: (g):30

Size (mm): General frame: 340*165*15

Lens material: Plastic flexible liquid crystal

Frame material: TR100

Design – The frame design is bulky, and not very attractive.  The glasses are large and wide, and tend to sit high on your face due to the molded nose pads.  When worn, the glasses tend to be large on the face and stick out at least a quarter inch on each side of my head.  Overall, the look is something between Buddy Holly and Giordi from Star Trek.  When folded, the glasses do not fold flat, so pocketing them is out of the question.


Functionality – The glasses function well and work as described.  The darkening effect from shade to sunlight is amazingly quick, and visibility is definitely improved with the glasses.  Even in conditions that require the lenses to change continually, the transitions are quick and not distracting.


Overall – While the design of the frame needs work, the technology is so good that I would buy a pair myself.  After checking with friends, most decided they would tolerate the terrible design of the frame to have the technology.  BooEnn has not announced a specific price for the glasses, but I was told they are initiating an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaignwith prices ranging from $75-$150 depending on the perk.  I am also told that the company plans to update its marketing literature to be more in line with US standards, and tweak the design to be more fashion conscious.


Rating – On a scale of 1-5, I would rate these a 3, with the caveat that if BooEnn tweaks the frame design to be more fashionable, they would be a 5.

Article by Chris Raymond

Photos by Chris Raymond and Booenn.com



Old School Spring Car Mod’s

Old School Spring Car Mod’s

With the sun shining and the temperature reaching 70 degrees, I decided to hop in my Miata and go run a few errands yesterday.  “Running errands” is a great excuse to get out of the house – ahem, office – and get some fresh air. The only downside is other humans like fresh air, too.  And many of them have crudely customized cars.

Case in point: I was sitting at an intersection, leaning my head back to get a base tan, when I heard a series of small, muffled explosions.  Suddenly my car started vibrating.  “Oh, my God,” I thought. “It’s the big one. I’m doing to die.” But wait…it wasn’t an earthquake, and there wasn’t an armed insurgency going on in the next town. All that commotion was coming from the unlikeliest of places:  a tiny little Honda Civic parked next to me.  It had darkened purple widows, a huge, unnecessary spoiler, gaudy chrome rims, and a live concert going on inside – the kind people get stabbed at.

The vibration from the car’s thundering bass caused my teeth to chatter. I wanted to laugh out loud, but there were some shady-looking characters inside, as evidenced by the vague outline of a sideways cap and the glint of several gold chains, so I kept my eyes straight ahead.  As soon as the light turned green I took a left and the Honda hurried along towards whatever drive-by shooting it was late for.

camaroghini_02 ebhf7a1 ford-ricer FotoFlexer_Photo1 SmFGmWb-607x350 Poser Of course, there’s nothing wrong with customizing cars. Kids did it in my day, too.  It’s just that it was less intimidating back then.  We didn’t listen to gangsta rap. We listened to John Denver.  “Rocky Mountain High” was as rebellious as we got. (Get it? High?) We had the same purple window tint, but it came in rolls and never quite fit the window.  We had chrome wheels, too, but our selection was limited to Cragar or American Racing rims.  We didn’t have spoilers the size of picnic tables, because we realized a car with a top speed of 80mph didn’t have a big issue with down force.  Hood scoops were big.  Ten bucks and some double-face tape and you were the only kid in town with a blower on your Ford Country Squire Wagon.

There were the big ticket items, too, like fog lights and driving lights.  Show up at a party with those babies and it was obvious you were there to rape and pillage, or at the very least smoke a cigarette.  If you really wanted to splurge, there was the light-up hood ornament.  J.C. Whitney had a selection of about 300, including the swan with the red plastic light-up wings and the guy with the red eyes thumbing his nose.  Talk about class. 1289042235010 Not much has changed overall.  Kids still outfit their cars with whatever crap they find at Pep Boys and cruise around town without a shred of self-awareness.  It’s all in good fun.

Photos courtesy of: www.failads.com, ghettoredhot, google images

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond

More Great Car Commercials

More Great Car Commercials

It seems that every five minutes there is another boring car commercial on TV.  Whether it’s a Honda, Ford, Subaru or a Mercedes, it’s always the same boring silver car driving slowly.  No one in the commercial looks like they enjoy driving, and we don’t enjoy watching them.  Here are some that I like.





Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Ken Block – San Francisco Gymkhana

Ken Block – San Francisco Gymkhana

Gymkhana is a type of motorsport with timed events and/or speed events in an automobile. These can feature obstacles such as cones, tires, and barrels.  This is better!
I could only imagine what it would be like to drive like Ken Block.  The amount of skill, nerve, and outright lunacy has to be incredible.  His videos are a perfect exhibition of skill, precision, and bravery.  The Latest DC Shoes/Ken Block Gymkhana video takes place in San Francisco.
The city allowed the film crew to block off everything from a suspension bridge, city streets, the waterfront, and even what looks like Telegraph Hill.  The video is amazing, and even the still photos are pretty damn spectacular.  One thing is odd, there is not a single person on the streets watching…not even in the windows.  I am pretty sure I would be right there watching the action.  Here is a reprint of the details of the shoot from Freshnessmag.com – written by Poe:
Paying homage to the great chase scene in the movie Bullit and others like it, DC Shoes’ Ken Block unveiled the fifth installment of his popular Gymkhana viral video series with the City of San Francisco as the backdrop. Uneven terrains, twisted roads, and windy streets, The City by the Bay is as challenging as they come for drivers. But for Block and his Hybrid Function Hoon Vehicle (H.F.H.V.), a highly modified Ford Fiesta, it was a playground like no other. In no time, Block ripped through The Bay Bridge, San Francisco’s Financial District, Russian Hill, Potrero Hill, Twin Peaks, even two of the city’s famous cable cars. Along the way, friend Travis Pastrana and Thrasher Magazine’s Jake Phelps joined in the festivities to show their support. After all, Ken Block shouldn’t get to have all the fun. In addition to the outrageous skill sets, Block also showcased the new DC Teamworks Collection. Designed in conjunction with him and others on his Gymkhana team, the collection features the DC Ken Block Pro Spec 3.0 Shoe, the DC Ken Block Gatsby 2 Shoe, the Block Spartan Teamworks High Shoe, the KB Cracked Tee, KB Cracked Up Zip Hoodie, the KB Cracked Hat, all appointed with none other than Block’s Hybrid Function Hoon Vehicle liveries.

Article by Chris Raymond – Reprint Courtesy of Freshnessmag,com
Photos Courtesy of Freshnessmag.com and autoblog.com
A World Class Collection

A World Class Collection

Collecting seems to bring out that primitive instinct for the hunt in some of its devotees, who stalk their prey with skill.  – Alicia Craig Faxon

That instinct for the hunt has given a friend of mine the ability to assemble a “world class” collection of very rare stamps.  The stamps are, in fact, so rare that I will make an exception to my usual rule that all posts must relate to cars.  My friend, Mahendra Sagar has spent a lifetime hunting and acquiring the rarest stamps in the Philatelic world, called “Inverted Centers.”


These inverted centers, are stamps with the design element upside down with respect to the rest of the stamp.  Most famous of these types is the inverted Jenny,  a stamp with the printing of the plane upside down.  These errors are so rare, and so priceless, that they are pursued by only the most determined, skilled, and knowledgeable collectors. 


Mahendra Sagar is such a man.  He started collecting stamps when he inherited his older brothers collection at an early age.  Now he specializes in these rarest of rare inverted centers.  His collection includes many choice stamps from other major collections, as well as some previously unknown stamps, all of which were acquired through years of auction bidding throughout the world. 


The Mahendra Sagar Collection, as it is called, is one of the greatest offerings of inverted center stamps.  Portions of the proceeds from the sale of the collection will go to various charitable institutions, like Vipassana Research Institute, and Buddhist Global Relief.


Even if you are not a stamp collector, the catalogue is a brief history lesson into the world of inverted centers, and worthy of a look.  The auction house has created a special website linked here, which describes the collection in detail, and offers a printed brochure for prospective bidders. 


It is one thing when a friend tells you that he is a stamp collector, but it is entirely different when you learn that his collection is “world class.”  In the car world, it would be like finding out your best friend doesn’t just own a classic car, but has a collection that rivals Ralph Lauren or Jay Leno.  You have to be impressed. 



Article courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photographs courtesy of Cherrystone Philatelic Auctions


Who is the Best Car Photographer?

Who is the Best Car Photographer?

Car Photography is work.  Taking a simple photograph of your car is much more difficult than you think, and getting the perfect shot seems to be as much about chance as it is skill.  I recently proved that a good photo of your car translates to viewers, when I listed my Jaguar XJS on eBay.  I got over 1,000 views compared to the usual 10-20.


In my search for the perfect car photograph, I have started to find professional photographers, and learn how they capture some of the best images on the web.  I have seen a ton of work, but for me, only one stands out above the crowd.  His photographs are some of the best I have ever seen on the web, and his reputation for capturing the perfect picture is excellent.



His name is Tim Wallace, and he is an automobile photographer in the UK.  He runs a company called Ambient Life, which does photography work for some of the biggest auto manufacturers, including Aston Martin, Mercedes, Jaguar and Morgan, as well as a slew of non-automotive companies.  He has won awards for his work, including International Advertising Photographer of the Year for 2010, and UK Motor Industry Photographer of the Year 2010, and has been featured in prominent magazines and publications throughout the world.



His work is stunning, and unlike anything else you will see.  One look at his Aston Martin photos show that his subject is as much the sky and light, as it is the car.  In a magazine interview, Wallace explained  “I know a few locations that are favorites but I’m always on the lookout for locations. Once I got diverted off the road I was on and found the most amazing canopy of trees. When things like this happen I find my Satnav to be a useful tool as I can add them as locations and it means I know longer need lots of scraps of paperIf you find a gem like this keep it to yourself because when other photographers start to go there it will be ruined.”  He can sometime spent months in preparation for a single shoot, and has an exc eptional understanding of lighting and angles.



His website, Ambient Life is a gallery of some of his best work, and worth a visit.  I have highlighted some of the best car photos here today.  Believe me when I tell you, his portfolio is amazing, and I highly recommend a cruise though the site.  Even if you are not a photographer, you will see some of the best images of cars on the web.


Photos courtesy of Tim Wallace, Ambient Life.

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond



Gran Turismo 5 Cars – Part II

Gran Turismo 5 Cars – Part II

Someone at Polyphony is a car lover, and one look at the new Gran Turismo 5 list will confirm it. This is Part II of my highlights from the GT5 cars, and it includes some amazing automobiles.

Maserati – 35 examples of this fine marque are included in the new GT5, including the 250F, Khamsin, Ghibli, and Quattroporte. The perfect Italian mafia car is finally available.

Maybach – One thing Gran Turismo needs is a five ton limousine for all those Ice races. Not only does this version include the long and short wheelbase cars, but it includes the mega-expensive Exelero.

Mercedes 770K – Finally, Glenn Beck can link Gran Turismo 5 to Hitler with the inclusion of this 770K. Driving this car through the streets of Paris will give the game a whole new feeling. Don’t want to play Hitler? Then choose Jeremy Clarkson’s Green Grosser 600, or the same 600 Pullman limousine that George Harrison and the Pope owned.

MG – In the last version, they only included the modern TF. Now gamers can drive the full selection of these great little British sports cars. From the “Back to School” MGTC, to the Sienfeld “Summon the Hounds” commercial MGA, there is a great selection of cars to drive.

Monteverdi Hai – Hai is the German word for shark, and with a 425 cubic inch V8 engine from Chrysler, this car is a monster. Only two were originally made, due to its $27,000 price tag in 1970. Two more were made from spare parts in later years, and all are now in collections.

Morgan Aeromax Coupe – Finally, one of my favorite cars is included in the new game. 14 Morgans including the Life Car are available for some proper thrashing around. Sadly, the EvaGT won’t be one of them.

Noble – The Noble is a little known British supercar, now owned by Peter Dyson of vacuum cleaner fame. Mr. Noble who founded the company was booted by Mr. Dyson, when he was caught with his hand looting the cookie jar. Top Gear described the Noble as one of the best cars on its track, and it rated fifth fastest lap time on the Top Gear track. Not bad for a piece of plastic built by drunk blokes from Leicestershire.

Oldsmobile – This company died a few years ago, but they finally made it into GT5. The offering includes cars like the Nimitz class Toranado, the Delta 88, and the great Old 442 muscle car. It’s about time Oldsmobile got the a little respect.

Packard – A sad reminder of the great cars that used to flow from Detroit. The game offers 6 models from 1930 to 1956.

Phantom Corsair – Built by one of the Ketchup kings, Rust Heinz in 1938. The Corsair originally cost $24,000 in 1938, and had features like hidden door buttons, no running boards, front wheel drive, and an electronically operated gearbox. Only one copy of the car exists.

Reliant Robin – Reliant makes its debut in GT5 with the Robin, Scimitar and other models. You may recognize the Robin as the car that constantly fell over when driven on Top Gear. This three wheeled car is not the most stable platform every designed, but was cheap and reliable, and required only a motorcycle license to operate.

Rinspeed – This wacky Swiss car company makes unusual vehicles like the Splash, an amphibious hydrofoil car. I am not sure how GT5 plans to allow drivers to use the hydrofoil option, but it could be fun. Also look for the Xtrem MUV, a car with a hovercraft, motorbike and jet skis.

Rolls-Royce – The ultimate British motor vehicle, and the “Best Car in the World.” For a racing game, Rolls-Royce may not be the best choice of cars considering its penchant for wafting down the road. Models include the stately Silver Ghost and Silver Cloud, as well as the timeless Silver Shadow.

Saab Sonnet – It is nice to see Saab represented, especially after their “almost demise” this past year. One of my favorite cars is the Sonnet, a small fiberglass sports car from the 1970’s. With a Ford 4-cylinder engine, and a limited production, this was a great car to drive. Also look for some other amazing Saabs, including a 900 (love the stand up, aircraft inspired windshield) and the Saab Viggen, inspired by the Viggen JA-37 fighter jet.

Saoutchick Dubonnet Xenia Concept ’38 – The only picture I have of this car is a Hispano Suiza concept with aluminum bodywork and unusual parallel opening doors. Saoutchik was a cabinet maker turned coachbuilder, and Dubonnet was an aviator/racing driver from a famous liquor manufacturing family.

Shockwave Jet Truck – Here is a great vehicle for the drag strip, though it may have more than a few problems at Nurburgring. The holder of the fastest full sized truck record in the Guinness Book of World Records with a top speed of 376 mph. The Shockwave has enough power to accelerate at 3G’s vertical, which is as much as the Space Shuttle.

Stout Scarab – This is credited by many as the world’s first production minivan, and also is the world’s first car with a fiberglass body shell. Equally important as the art deco exterior was the interior, with its flexible seating, card table and stylized ancient Egyptian scarab motif. Only 5 examples remain today.

Thrust SSC – SSC stands for Super Sonic Car, something that could be more than a challenge on the Laguna Seca track. This jet propelled car holds the World Land Speed Record of 763mph, and became the first car to officially break the sound barrier. Gamers should plan on lots of pit stops in this gas hog.

Vector – This Porsche engined supercar was a limited production 90’s pinup, which eventually evolved into a Lamborghini powered V-12 phantom. Not many were sold, not many remain, but it should be a lot of fun on the track.

Zil – Not to be outdone with Hitler’s car, GT5 decided to add some great Politburo classics. Zil limousines were the favorite of Iron Curtain power brokers, and are as quick as a government subcommittee on the track.

There you have it, the highlights from the new offerings in Gran Turismo 5. Each of these cars has an amazing history, and they should be appreciated for their unique designs, style, and technological advancements. It is a true “Who’s Who” of the automotive world.

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond
Photos courtesy of Google Images



Gran Turismo 5 Dream Car Garage

Gran Turismo 5 Dream Car Garage

Ever wish you could create your own dream car garage?  Most of us do, but very few of us have the money to make it a reality.  Now, there is an alternative that will allow you to buy the cars of your dreams, and drive them on the best tracks in the world, all for around 50 bucks.  It’s called Gran Turismo 5, the Playstation driving simulator that is expected to be released sometime soon.  If you are a car nut, then you know all about Gran Turismo.  It is one of the best driving games out there, and the new version will include more tracks, NASCAR races, 3D video, and a selection of over 1000 of the greatest cars in automotive history.  Here are some of the highlights from the list:
Volga V12 Coupe – I wrote a little about this car in a previous post, and consider it one of the most beautiful cars to come out of the old Soviet Union.  Based on a BMW 850 chassis, and using Volga body parts, this car should be a blast to drive and very powerful.
Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione – This Ferrari based 8-cyliner Italian muscle car should look and sound fantastic, though I have heard it is not that impressive on the track.  But for GT5 players, it will be a great addition to their garage.  Also, look for masterpieces as a 1923 RL Targa Florio, 1954 BAT Coupe Bertone, and a whole slew of Alfas from the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s.
Auburn – Not only do you get a beautiful boat tail Speedster, but the list also includes two sedans, a cabriolet, two coupes, and a Cord.  I cannot wait to fit dirt tires on a Speedster, and try the Grand Canyon rally.
Bertone Marzal – This is the car that Bertone designed for Lamborghini, complete with full side windows and metallic interior.  Designed by Marcello Gandini and based on a stretched Miura, the car had a V12 Miura engine that was cut in half.  It is a show concept that is best known for opening the 1967 Grand Prix of Monaco, driven by Prince Rainer and Princess Grace of Monaco.  To me, it is one of my favorite Matchbox cars of all time.
Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada – Another car of design perfection.  Bizzarrini was one of the creators of the Iso Rivolta, Iso Grifo, Lamborghini V12 engine, and famously one of the “palace revolutionaries” from the famous Ferrari revolt.  He built this fiberglass bodied, Chevy powered supercar from 1965 to 1968.
Bugatti Type 41 Royale – The mother of all cars, and one of the most expensive in the world.  One copy of this car sold for 20 million dollars.  The new GT5 will also include 20+ more Bugatti models from the 1930’s right up to the Veyron Targa…way cool.
Castagna Imperial Landaulet – This 4WD Rolls Royce Phantom knockoff is designed by the same firm that was the coachbuilder for the Isotta Fraschini.  Sporting a twin turbocharged 800 hp V-8, this Italian car should be quick, and it’s sliding “landaulet” rear roof looks pretty awesome.
De Thomaso Mangusta – One of the most beautiful cars from the 1960’s.  This car, along with sixteen of its siblings will be available in the new GT5.  Stunning to look at, and awesome to drive, this car will be one of my first purchases.  Keep an eye out for the Guara, a car that looks like a squashed Mazda and was supposed to replace the venerable Pantera.
Duesenberg SJ Arlington Torpedo Sedan – The Twenty Grand show car, named after its original price tag.  This magnificent automobile marked the zenith of American automobile manufacturing.  It had a supercharged straight-eight engine, a 0-60 time as fast as a Ferrari 308, and a top speed of 140mph.  There are eight Duesenbergs for you to own, including a very rare SSJ (Supercharged Short wheelbase) driven by Gary Cooper and Clark Gable.  These are definitely “Duesys.”
Facel Vega HK500 – One of the prettiest cars ever made, and one of the best interiors on any car.  Owners included Pablo Picasso, Ringo Starr, and Stirling Moss.  It was also the car that Albert Camus, French philosopher and writer was killed in during an accident.  Classic austere French coachwork and a Chrysler powertrain, this car is a rare and appreciate piece of art.
Factory Five Racing – This company is a neighbor of mine, located in Wareham, MA.  They make kit versions of the Shelby Cobra and amazing GTM Supercar.  These cars are fast, stylish, and offer the performance of the original for a fraction of the cost.
Ferrari – At last!  The Italian marque makes it big in GT5, and it includes models like the Lusso, the 250GT California Spyder, the 365 GT NART Spyder, The Daytona, the Testarossa, the Enzo, the 458 Italia,  and the FXX.  Finally some red headed Italian beauties to play with.
General Motors Futurliner – Why this vehicle is in a racing game is beyond me, but it is pretty to look at.  I seriously doubt anyone will be winning a 24-hour Nurburgring race in this monster, but it should make for some fun times on the Top Gear track.  Designed by Harley Earl, and used for General Motors Parade of Progress, there are only 9 left in the world, and a restored version is worth upwards of 4 million dollars.
Iso Grifo – Along with the Rivolta, these stunningly beautiful Italian cars will be available in GT5.  Designed by Giugiaro of Bertone, with mechanicals by Bizzarrini, this car is powered by a Chevrolet Corvette 427 engine.   Rare and expensive, the Grifo is the ultimate product of a great company also famous for refrigerators and the Isetta bubble car.
Jaguar XJS Coupe – I had to add this, because I own one of these gorgeous cars.  This is one of those cars that has aged like a fine wine.  Not a day goes by where I don’t stop and look at it’s beautiful lines.  Along with the E-type coupe offered in GT4, the new version will include way over 60 other models.  Look for the C-Type LeMans, D-type, XK 120 through 150, Mk II, and all sorts of sedans, coupes and racecars.
Kaiser Darrin Convertible – Another stunning design.  This was penned by Howard “Dutch” Darrin and featured sliding doors that concealed themselves in the front fenders (his design patent), a three-position canvas top with French landau irons, as well as a body “that looked like it wanted to give you a kiss.”  Made of fiberglass at Glaspar, a boat and kit car manufacturer, they weighed only 987 lbs, and later models came with a Cadillac V-8 engine.  Built to compete with the Corvette, it was too little, to late to save Kaiser.
Lamborghini – They heavens have opened and the Gods have shined a light unto Gran Turismo 5, blessing us with 38 different models from the entire range of the Italian tractor maker’s history.  Included will be the Miura, the Jamara, the 350GT, Espada, Countach, Murcielago, and the 4WD LM002.  These cars alone should make the wait a little more bearable.
Lincoln Continental Convertible  – This Elwood Engle design is an automotive masterpiece.  Originally intended to be a new Ford Thunderbird, it was moved to the Lincoln line by Robert McNamara.  The new GT5 includes 36 models from the 1950’s to current day.  For those of you that love Nimitz class luxury sedans, there will be disappointment, as the titanic 1979 Town Car is noticeably absent.
This brings us to the letter M, which means there are a ton of great cars left over for my next post.  With over 1000 cars available, you can create the perfect dream car garage.  I will complete the list in the next post.  For now, take a second to consider the beauty of these vehicles, not as part of a game, but as milestones in the history of the automobile.  For the entire list of Gran Turismo 5 cars, check out this link:  Gran Turismo 5 Car List
Article courtesy of Chris Raymond
Photos courtesy of a Google Images, khusley.com, getsupercars.com, ultimatecarpage.com



Grand Turismo 5 Coming Soon!

Grand Turismo 5 Coming Soon!

The year 2010 will go down in history as a great year, but not because of Healthcare Reform.  I’m talking about Grand Turismo 5, the king of all driving games.  Finally there is word that it will be released in October, after years of delays and broken promises, and for a gearhead this release date is epic.

If you have played GT4, then you know that this new edition will be amazing.  Just watching the trailer makes me crazy.  The graphics are stunning and hard to believe, and the game play is unbelievably realistic.  The lighting makes the game different from the other popular games like Grand Theft Auto, using white light instead of the usual orangy tinged sunlight.  The tracks and locations are amazingly accurate right down to the buildings and road texture.  The whole thing has a sharper appearance than before, and the cars are just stunning.

Expect to experience some of the best cars in the world in some of the most spectacular racetracks from around the globe.  The list of vehicles reads like a who’s who of great automotive designs and includes the Ferrari 458 Italia and the California, the Lamborghini Gallardo and Countach, a Lotus Evora, the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG, a Tesla Roadster, a Bugatti Veyron and even a Koenigsegg CCXR.  The tracks will be very accurate; in fact everything about the cars will be very close to real life from the sounds of the engines to the feel of understeer around a corner.  In fact, they are so accurate that Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson was almost able to recreate a GT4 Laguna Seca track time in real life.  And speaking of Top Gear, the Stig’s famous home track will be included, so you can be “The Star in a Reasonably Priced Car”.

There may be some unexpected things in the new game, including interior shots of the cars.  NASCAR will also make its debut adding some new tracks and cars to the mix including the Indianapolis Speedway, Daytona and the Texas Motor Speedway.  Even the rally tracks will be more diverse, and I was able to spot a Lancia Delta Integrale and Lancia Stratos in the trailer, plus I hear there are rumors of a Touring Car Championship.

Now, if you were one of the people who bought GT5 Prologue, then some of this may not be new.  But I didn’t buy it, because I thought it was better to wait for the full game.  Needless to say, I missed out on some great driving and didn’t realize the wait would be so long.  If you have never played the game, check out the trailer because I am pretty sure you will want to get your hands on it.  This is the Holy Grail of driving simulators, and this version will be absolutely mind blowing.

Photos courtesy of Polyphony Digital and games.softpedia.com

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond