We braved the crowded Metro, the packed Mall and the DC beltway for the Inauguration of Barack Obama, only to wind up parking the car for 3 hours in a traffic jam on the Jersey Turnpike.
A guy from Massachucetts was driving to DC when his family called authorities to say he had a bomb and was going to blow up the Mall. The threat escalated to the FBI and Secret Service and both sides of the Turnpike were closed from the Delaware Bridge to Exit 4, over 30 miles. Turns out it was a false alarm, and they’re now questioning the mental health of the person who called it in.
We thought we’d beat the traffic by leaving right after the inaugural address, and travel was brisk until NJ. We were getting bits and pieces of traffic reports on the radio, but had no idea how long it would last. Slowly one hour turned to two, then to three as we idled motionless. Disney’s Robin Hood played for the kids in the back seat while we watched people get out of their cars to piss in the woods. Finally cars and trucks started moving again and a few miles later we passed the flashing lights and security vehicles around a little sub-compact sitting alone on the south-bound lane, jamming up the system with its hoax.
The “Sashimi Tabernackle Choir” is an 80′s 240 that was outfitted with two hundred fifty “Billy Bass”-type automated rubber fish and lobsters. Built in 2001, the choir syncs the reverse engineered robots to orchestrate music for parades in Texas.
With wry humor they document the process here, including this comment on why they used the 240:
Volvos make the best Art Cars because (A) they have nice thick metal to bolt things to, (B) they last forever, and (C) when bystanders start throwing stuff at you, you need a nice solid car around you.
The Lobster conductor at 1:03 in this video is kinda’ frightening.
Check out more parade cars here.
Photo from SashmiTabernacleChoir.org
A couple of weeks ago the NY Times had an article titled “A Market Segment That Dare Not Speak Its Name.” And what segment would that be? The station wagon.
Auto manufacturers have obviously seen that the market for full-size SUVs is dwindling, but they know that Americans still need lots of trunk space to carry all their stuff. The Infinity and BMW are interesting crossovers in that they are large hatchbacks with a high stance, allowing drivers a more upright seating position, similar to an SUV, but with much more cargo room than a compact hatchback, like the Mazda 3. But why would you want to sacrifice the handling characteristics of a lower center-of-gravity conventional wagon when you know you’re not going off-road?
The Flex is a station wagon that won’t admit it. From the Times article:
The Flex’s mandate is to fulfill the mission of a minivan or large S.U.V. (it seats seven) while looking nothing like either one. The Flex makes no pretense of off-road ability, but it will tow 4,500 pounds — a fair amount more than most cars. So what is it?
It’s a hefty wagon, a Country Squire for the hip-hop age. Why it’s marketed as a crossover, along with the Taurus X and the Fusion, I do not know. Is the word “stationwagon” as unfashionable as the term “minivan”?
Feministing posted a vintage Volvo ad from the 60′s that would never fly today. First, because it treats the woman in the ad as an inept, incompetent shrew. Second, because plenty of women buy cars themselves and the ad’s target audience seems to be guys who need help in convincing their non-driving wives of the wisdom of their decisions. The narrator says:
If your wife won’t let you buy a Volvo (what, is she your mother?), let her drive one. That’ll really do the job. Once she gets the feel of it, she might like knowing you’re getting a car that, in most cases, lasts long enough to get people out of car payments, and into new furniture payments, or swimming pool payments, or fur coat payments.
All the while this dude’s wife is bumping and jostling down the road, trying to drive a manual, or riding in reverse in the automatic. Get it? Women can’t drive! Ha!I
Is it just me or does that dude look old enough to be her dad?
Sarah Haskins on Current TV shows that things aren’t that much better now when she deconstructs the loving carress of a Volvo S80.
This old ad is pretty bizzare. “The Volvo 340. Tested by dummies. Driven by the intelligent.” He’s a dummy all right, what with driving out a 2nd story plate glass window and all.
The Car Lust blog has a post by Chris Hafner showing he’s not a big fan of the Volvo 240, even (or especially) after covering more than 150k miles in one. I love this observation:
The car made up for that lapse of refinement with an almost utter lack of power. Brand-new, the four-cylinder engine pumped out 114 horsepower. After more than 300,000 miles of abuse, I’d be surprised if it generated anything close to that lofty figure. This, when powering a two-ton steel safety cage, resulted in a car able to drive out of a paper bag only if that bag is properly moistened.