Cars: the third way

It drives me nuts how black & white people make the world out to be.  In the latest example of this, fans of classic muscle cars are lamenting that the days of ‘Vettes and Mustangs are over.  Meanwhile, auto companies have gotten so utterly bland that it’s hard to tell a Taurus from an Accord anymore just be looking at it.  The Prius, while appealing to a certain segment, is hardly a looker when it comes to exterior design.  The Tesla Roadster, designed by those brilliant people at Lotus, is great to look at – a sexy, Ferrari-like design – but reportedly makes very little noise.  Every car lover knows that one of the things that makes a great car is the sound.  Just think back to your Matchbox-playing childhood and the sounds you’d make driving your cars all around the house.

But do those days really have to be over just because we need better efficiency and less pollution in our engines?  Here are some technologies I’ve stumbled across that could be judiciously employed to have your cake and eat it too.

  1. Here’s a simple solution that I’m surprised no one realized before.  Lotus (I’m telling you, they’re geniuses) has a canned car sound you can add to a quiet car (in this case a Prius, but why not an electric ‘Vette?).
  2. Alternative fuels don’t have to be dull.  Check out these alt-fuel racing prototypes.  And, as a note, the IndyCar series has been using an ethanol blend for a few years.  While there are issues with ethanol (it’s not that great an alternative), it shows that you can still have speed without 100% petroleum.
  3. Transonic Combustion has a technology that retrofits existing internal combustion engines, increasing their fuel efficiency to nearly 100 mpg.  Welcome back muscle car!
  4. Electric doesn’t have to be un-sexy.  I’ve mentioned Tesla before (exterior design by Lotus) who, incidentally, recently tried out the Roadster at a drag strip.  But what if your tastes run a little more in the grease monkey genre?  Perhaps you prefer two wheels to four.  Well, Orange County Choppers, the legendary builders of loud motorcycles, has unveiled an electric bike.

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