Friday Fast Facts 4/5/2019

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Love cars and the stories behind them? Join us on the drive to automotive enlightenment in this week’s edition of Friday Fast Facts!

South Africans Once Used Flame-Throwers to Fight Carjacking

In the late 1990s the South African city of Johannesburg was rife with carjackings. According to a BBC News article by Jeremy Vine there were 4,000 cars hijacked between January and June of 1998. This wasn’t just a matter of leaving your car unlocked or parking in a rough neighborhood, Vine explains: “…people pull up at traffic lights, they stop their car and then someone comes up to the window with a gun and tells them to get out.” In an effort to remedy the epidemic, inventor Charles Fourie came up with “the blaster,” a flame-thrower ignited by a foot pedal that would shoot fire from nozzles routed under the car into the face of the potential high-jacker. While not everyone agreed with the method, the anti-theft device was considered legal.

Photo Source: BBC News

 “The New-Car Smell” is Actually Toxic

That new-car smell is great. It’s marvelous. Magnificent. One might even call it intoxicating. And as it turns out, it is. The enchanting smell of a new car is a mixture of the odors emitted by the various components used to produce a car. According to Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at Michigan’s Ecology Center, the combination of rubbers, plastics and fabric produce “a chemical cocktail made up of lots of toxins.” Benzene and formaldehyde to name a few. Still, we can’t get enough of it.

You can Play ‘Pong’ in a Saab

Engineers at Saab left an Easter egg in the 9-3 SS. According to a blog on, “an Easter egg is an intentional inside joke, hidden message, or feature in a work such as a computer program, puzzle, music” etc. Using a GM Tech 2 diagnostic reader, you can play Pong by going to the Airbag/SRS system submenu. Finally, a Saab story worth hearing.

In Churchill, Canada It’s Customary for Residents to Leave Car Doors Unlocked for Those Being Chased by Polar Bears

Churchill, Manitoba is known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World” due to their migration from slabs of ice in the Hudson Bay back to shoreat the end of summer. “Polar bear season” really begins in September and “by November, sometimes 60 polar bears can be seen on a given day,” according to a Huffington Post article by Laura Moss. Citizens of Churchill have had to adapt to their neighbors: residents leave their cars unlocked in case a pedestrian needs shelter from the bears. Luckily this only lasts for a few months until the bears return to the Hudson Bay to hunt for seals.

A Bugatti Chiron can Empty its Gas Tank in Nine Minutes

The Bugatti Chiron is the successor to the already-ridiculous Veyron. Both cars house an 8-liter, quad-turbocharged W16 cylinder engine sending power to all four wheels. The Veyron Super Sport produces a wicked 1184 horsepower and tops out at 253 mph. The Chiron somehow exceeds those marks with 1,479 horsepower and a blistering 261 mph top speed. All of that speed and power comes at a cost, though. According to an article by TopGear, the Veyron can empty its 100-liter fuel tank at top speed in 12 minutes.  The Chiron can do the same in just nine. While it is worth noting, you’re probably not worried about pinching pennies for gas if you’re driving one of these.

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