Love cars and the stories behind them? Join us on the drive to automotive enlightenment in this week’s edition of Friday Fast Facts!
Modern Tires Can Trace Their Roots to Jail
When rubber was introduced to the United States during the Industrial Revolution, it was seen as a miracle material. The romanticization didn’t last long though, as consumers discovered their rubber goods would become brittle during winters and melt during summers. Charles Goodyear, namesake of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, was determined to stabilize the substance and invested all he had and more in the endeavor. His inability to repay the cost experiments eventually landed him in debtor’s prison. He continued to experiment in prison, having his wife bring him the raw material which he kneaded and mixed for hours. Eventually Goodyear inadvertently combined the raw rubber with sulfur on a hot stove and discovered that rubber didn’t melt, but instead hardened as temperatures rose. This discovery paved the way for the development of modern tires. He dubbed the process Vulcanization after Vulcan, the Roman God of Fire.
The World’s Longest Car is 100 Feet Long
The ‘American Dream’ was built in California by Jay Ohrberg and certified to be the world’s longest car in 1986 according to Guinness World Records. The 26-wheeled land yacht featured a helicopter landing pad, a jacuzzi with a diving board and a luxurious living room. The record holder was surprisingly maneuverable with driver’s cabins located at both the front and rear axles, enabling it to handle almost any turn. Its glory days are behind it though. The Dream was leased to a promotional company which stored it in a New Jersey warehouse. As of 2012, that company’s lease was up, and both the warehouse and the ‘American Dream’ were abandoned.
The Honda Accord it the Most Stolen Vehicle in the U.S.
The Honda Accord has topped the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual Hot Wheels Report as the most stolen car for nine out of the last ten years. There are roughly 50,000 Accords reported stolen each of these years. You may be asking yourself, “What is it about the Accord?” In an interview with ABC News, Patrick Clancy of car tracking and recovery system LoJack cites the sheer popularity of the Accord as a factor: “year after year, the Honda Accord continues to be a top seller at car dealerships.” Clancy says that more Accords on the road means more Accords needing parts for repair, and more Accords to be stolen and parted out.
Something to consider is the preferred year models amongs thieves. A PRNewswire article notes, “Honda Accords and Civics produced prior to the introduction of anti-theft technology continue to dominate this report.” For example, 1996, 1997 and 1998 where the most stolen model years according to the past four NICB reports.
Switzerland is Home to the World’s Most Expensive Speeding Ticket
A Swedish man was clocked by a police radar camera for blowing through a Swiss village at 186 miles per hour in August of 2010. “We have no record of anyone being caught travelling faster in the country,” a police spokesman told the Daily Mail. The man received a fine for around £538,000 (roughly $900,000)—nearly four times the price of the Mercedes-Benz SLS he was driving at the time. Why was the fine so outrageous? In Switzerland, traffic fines are based on a calculation that considers the offender’s income, among other things. ‘More money, more problems’ indeed.
Dubai has the World’s Fastest Police Car
The Dubai police department elected to upgrade from traditional US police cruisers like Crown Victorias and Dodge Chargers to something more in line with the city’s upscale character: a Bugatti Veyron. The Veyron can reach a top speed of 253 mph with its 16-cylinder, 1000 horsepower engine. There are 13 other cars in the Dubai P.D.’s fleet of supercars including a Bentley Continental GT, three Porsche Panameras, two BMW i8s, a Lamborghini Aventador and a Nissan GT-R.