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Original Batmobile Headed to Lego Land - Maybe

Original Batmobile Headed to Lego Land - Maybe

Multiple movies, TV shows, comic books and storybooks have been playfully immortalized in Lego sets, created for kids, but often hoarded by moms nostalgic dads and moms, too. Such will most certainly be the case if one online crusader gets his way. Posting on the Lego Ideas website, a guy (or gal, who knows?) who goes by "B. Rick" is pushing the toymaker to offer a set that includes features from the original 1966 Batman TV series, including the iconic Batmobile by late car customizer George Barris. The proposed Lego Batmobile car, which began life in the TV world as a 1955 Lincoln Futura before undergoing a massive transformation, includes many of the same features you'll remember coveting as a kid, including the atomic turbine engine, Bat radar, rocket launchers, Bat-chutes, the Caped Crusaders' ultimately prophetic mobile crime computer and, of course, the Bat-phone. The set also includes Gotham scenery for original Batman and Robin figures. The Lego Ideas site essentially is...

November 7, 2015


Toyota Pumps $1 Billion into AI for Futuristic Rides and Robots

Toyota Pumps $1 Billion into AI for Futuristic Rides and Robots

Today's rides increasingly are becoming infused with the kind of artificial intelligence that once was the stuff only of comic books and James Bond movies. Now, Toyota is ramping up for an even more futuristic automotive scene by pumping $1 billion into a research and development laboratory in California's Silicon Valley. Dubbed the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), the initiative will hire hundreds of engineers to staff a main facility in Palo Alto, Calif., near Stanford University, and a second located near MIT in Cambridge, Mass. Heading the TRI is former DARPA program manager Dr. Gill Pratt, an executive technical advisor at Toyota. As CEO, he'll rev up operations in January. At a recent press conference, Toyota president Akio Toyoda told members of the media that the company pursues innovation and new technologies "to make life better for our customers and society as a whole," adding that officials chose Gill to lead the TRI "not just because he's an amazing researcher and e...

November 7, 2015


Scary Car Pick for Halloween: Evil Dead's Oldsmobile Delta 88

Scary Car Pick for Halloween: Evil Dead's Oldsmobile Delta 88

It's perhaps the cheesiest yet most cult-tastic horror film ever made - 1981's The Evil Dead. Meant to be a truly frightening flick, it proved hilarious. Rather than get offended, director Sam Raimi came back with the seminal Evil Dead II, adding slapstick humor to the over-the-top horror (a nod to the Three Stooges) and solidifying the franchise as a horror/comedy hybrid cinematic favorite. Though the last of the trilogy, Evil Dead III, renamed Army of Darkness proved a box office flop, it remains a cult favorite. Among the stars of the trilogy is that 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale that main character Ash (Bruce Campbell) drives in all three films. It was Raimi's personal ride during his high school days. Boasting a quad-eyed death stare, the car brought Ash and his unwitting friends to their deadly vacation spot in The Evil Dead, traveled back in time in Evil Dead 2 and is transformed into a combat machine, complete with armor and a spinning propeller, in Army of Darkness to ...

October 29, 2015


Road Rage Detector Seat Could Hit Market by 2018

Road Rage Detector Seat Could Hit Market by 2018

As lovers of all things automotive, nothing much bewilders, angers or saddens us here at E3 Spark Plugs quite like a case road rage. Recent research reveals that over a seven year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were attributed to road rage. Some 66 percent of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving and 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm. But a new invention dubbed the "road rage detector seat" just may help change that, developers say. Nanterre, France-based Faurecia, the world's 6th largest auto parts manufacturer, is developing what they call the Active Wellness seat. It's designed to monitor the emotions of drivers via built-in stress or fatigue sensors and to quickly offer up a customized response option when those emotions run high. "If you're stressed out, your heart rate increases and your respiration increases," said Faurecia's Vice President of Innovation, Rob Huber, in an interview with CNBC's Closing Bell. "If you press ...

October 29, 2015


Three Show-Stopping Concept Cars at Tokyo Motor Show

Three Show-Stopping Concept Cars at Tokyo Motor Show

The Tokyo Motor Show 2015 is officially underway and as always, it's a virtual wonderland of impractical, implausible, likely impossible yet absolutely desirable. Produced by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, the 44th annual event is known for its unveiling of futuristic concept vehicles and this year's theme, "Your heart will race," is proving appropriate. Some 160 exhibitors from 11 countries are participating this year, bringing with them 76 world premieres and 68 Japan premieres all bound to wow some 900,000 visitors. But the show stoppers always are the crazy creative concept rides, most of which will never make the mass production line. Here are three of our favorites from this year's show. Nissan 2020 Vision Gran Turismo: The idea was borne of collaboration with the makers of Gran Turismo, the iconic driving tame franchise. In July, gamers were first treated to a virtual version released into Gran Turismo 6. But the engineers at Nissan got it in their hea...

October 29, 2015


Tesla Autopilot Nabbed for Speeding During Test Drive

Tesla Autopilot Nabbed for Speeding During Test Drive

So who's responsible for paying a traffic citation in a self-driving car? Well, you could blame it on the car itself, especially when it fails to adjust its speed when the limits change. But if you're stopped by a Florida Highway Patrolman in bumper-to-bumper I-95 traffic on your way to Miami, that excuse likely isn't going to wash. It's just one of the lessons learned by a Dragtimes.com personality during the recent test drive of the new Tesla Autopilot. He was filming a 16-minute demo of the Tesla Autopilot Model S Version 7 and headed southbound on I-95 in Florida when an FHP officer pulled him over and gave him a warning for going 75mph in a 60mph zone. Turns out there's a bit of a speed glitch in the car, which otherwise performed beautifully, whether speeding down the open road or navigating rush-hour traffic. The officer also levied a ticket for a lack of proof of insurance. So yeah - if you're picturing yourself behind the wheel of a self-driving ride one day, you've sti...

October 24, 2015


Man Gets Stolen '68 Camaro Back After Three Decades

Man Gets Stolen '68 Camaro Back After Three Decades

Back in 1981, Ohio's Ron Reolfi was a cash-strapped college student who plunked down a hard-earned $600 for a used Chevy Camaro. He and his father would spend the next year tinkering with the now-classic car, including replacing some 90 percent of the chrome. When their work was done, Reolfi got to enjoy his gleaming new ride for all of a few weeks before it got lifted from the parking lot of the grocery store where he worked. Reolfi reported the theft and searched the streets of Canton, Ohio for a few months before finally giving up, resigning himself to the fact that he'd likely never see his ride again. So, you can imagine his surprise when he got a call last October from a detective in Jackson Township asking about a '68 Camaro. "I told him it was stolen and he says they found the vehicle," Reolfi told reporters. "And right away I asked him if there was a chance we could get this vehicle back. He says 'well, you sure have a horse in the race.'" But he wasn't the only one. Q...

October 24, 2015


The Rock Tackles a Ford-Tough New Role

The Rock Tackles a Ford-Tough New Role

The last time we saw Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in an auto garage, it was as Luke Hobbs, a Diplomatic Security Service agent, in the crazy successful Fast & Furious film franchise. Now, he's landed another tough-guy role as the leader of an elite team dubbed the "Specialists" - Ford service specialists, that is. Johnson recently signed on as the star of a series of commercials encouraging Ford owners to have their rides serviced at Ford dealerships rather than any run-of-the-mill auto shop. "I couldn't be more excited to be in partnership with Ford as their spokesman for service," Johnson said. "My relationship with Ford began when I was 15 and bought a classic '77 blue Thunderbird as my first car – and I've been a Ford man ever since. Representing their service department and the Ford individuals who are committed to taking care of their customers echoes one of my core enterprise beliefs, 'Always take care of your audience,' and whether it's in a movie theater or behind the w...

October 24, 2015


E3 Spark Plugs Recommends: "Steve McQueen - The Man & Le Mans"

E3 Spark Plugs Recommends:

Iconic actor Steve McQueen is as well known for his love for all things automotive as he is for his on-screen career. Before his death in 1980, the King of Cool amassed one of the most famous car collections in the world. But he wasn't just a collector. McQueen also was a bona fide racer who could hold his own with the best on the tracks. Now, a new documentary, highly recommended by E3 Spark Plugs, offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of McQueen's life and work during the making of his 1971 classic, Le Mans. Helmed by directors Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna, Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans is made primarily from outtakes and never before seen footage captured during the making of the original cult-classic film. Le Mans starred McQueen as Michael Delaney, an American competitor in the 24-hour Grand Prix race in France who returns after a horrific accident that killed a fellow driver. Video in the new documentary film is overlaid with audio of McQueen himself describing the exp...

October 24, 2015


Original Back to the Future DeLorean is Back

Original Back to the Future DeLorean is Back

    If you're an '80s film buff of any degree, or if you've been on social media for all of 30 seconds today, you know that today is the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown blasted through time and into a cheesy but fun Hollywood version of 2015 in 1989's Back to the Future II. Just as the film predicted hoverboards, flying cars and self-tying shoes have become near realities. But who could have imagined that the iconic film would be the subject of presidential candidates all over something called "Twitter" three decades later? The film franchise definitely has stood the test of time with a whole generation of fans. And to our utter delight here at E3 Spark Plugs, a few of the most die-hard among those fans have spent the past four years working with Universal, producer Bob Gale and director Bob Zemeckis to restore Doc's original time-traveling DeLorean. It began in 2011 when the car was rolled out at a Nike promotional event. The moment proved a bit anticlimactic when Gale saw...

October 21, 2015


Recalled Window Switch Defect Could Set Your Toyota Ablaze

Recalled Window Switch Defect Could Set Your Toyota Ablaze

If you drive a Toyota, take note. E3 Spark Plugs just learned that Toyota has issued a recall of a whopping 6.5 million vehicles worldwide, including some 2.7 million here in North America. Officials say that faulty driver's side window switches can catch fire. The culprit is improperly or insufficiently applied grease on electrical contact modules. If moisture or debris finds its way into these modules, they can short circuit, causing the switch assembly to overheat and melt. A melting switch can produce smoke and that can cause a fire. Thus far, the issue has caused at least one burn injury here in the US and 11 fire-damaged vehicle doors, according to Toyota reports. Models affected in the recall include: 2007 and 2009 Camry and Camry Hybrid 2009-2011 Corolla 2008-2011 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid 2009-2011 Matrix 2006-2011 RAV4 2009-2011 Sequoia 2009-2011 Tundra 2006-2010 Yaris 2009-2011 Scion xB 2009-2010 Scion xD If you are the registered owner of a veh...

October 21, 2015


Four Pricey Floyd Mayweather Rides Go Up In Flames

Four Pricey Floyd Mayweather Rides Go Up In Flames

Famed fighter Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is as well known for his automotive bling as he is for his championship titles, as E3 Spark Plugs noted a few months ago. According to one of his few dealers of choice, Josh "Chop" Towbin, who owns Towbin Motorcars in Las Vegas, Mayweather has purchased well more than 100 ultrahigh-end rides from the dealership, including nearly 20 Rolls Royces. But just like the Regular Joe, the guy has a bad day now and then. One of those bad days happened earlier this week when a trailer transporting Mayweather’s Bentley, two Rolls Royce Whips and a highly customized Jeep caught fire, burning all four rides to a (very expensive) crisp. The trailer had left Miami and was headed to Vegas when trouble started just outside of Phoenix, Arizona around 1:30 am on Oct. 7. The good news is that there were no injuries. And considering that Mayweather’s estimated net worth is upward $400 million, we’re guessing he’ll recover nicely.

October 9, 2015


Mystery of James Dean’s Long-Missing Porsche Spyder Solved?

Mystery of James Dean’s Long-Missing Porsche Spyder Solved?

It’s one of the most enduringly fascinating classic car mysteries –and it may soon be solved. On Sept. 30, 1955, iconic actor James Dean and a friend were speeding along Route 466 in Cholame, in his sleek, silver 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder when it slammed head-on into a 1950 Ford Tudor coupe driven by 23-year-old college student Donald Turnipseed. The sheer velocity of the impact flipped Dean’s car into the air. It landed back on its wheels in a gully, pinning Dean inside with a broken neck. The young star died during transport to the hospital. Dean’s Porsche, dubbed “Little Bastard,” had been customized by George Barris, famed designer of the Batmobile and the Munster Koach, and by master pinstriper and customizer Dean Jeffries who had a shop next to Barris’. After the crash, Barris purchased the wreckage of the car, often loaning it to the California Highway Patrol to use in displays designed to discourage speeding. Later, he sold the engine and chassis to two phys...

October 9, 2015


Distinguished Gentlemen Don their Most Dapper Duds and Ride for a Cause

Distinguished Gentlemen Don their Most Dapper Duds and Ride for a Cause

"I say, good sir - Nice motor bike!" Such might be the best way to best way to compliment a fellow rider if you attended one of the multiple Distinguished Gentlemen’s rides, wherein upward of 30,000 gentlemen and ladies in 400 cities worldwide “don their cravats, press their tweed and sit astride their classic-styled motorcycles to raise funds for prostate cancer research and awareness.” Founded in Sydney, Australia in 2012 and inspired by a photo of Mad Men character Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm), the event is projected to raise $3 million this year. Here in the United States alone, nearly 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year. The disease is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the US, claiming the lives of 27,540 American men annually. In the video below, railway signalman Jim Porter of the United Kingdom shares his story of battling prostate cancer and how the Distinguished Gentlemen’s ride helped him. Did you participate in a local...

October 9, 2015


Formula 1, British Military, Aerospace Experts Building 1,000-MPH Rocket Car

Formula 1, British Military, Aerospace Experts Building 1,000-MPH Rocket Car

It's the stuff of your boyhood dreams. A sleek, supersized, rocket-on-wheels ride designed to hit speeds of 1,000 miles per hour. And it's fast approaching reality. Earlier this week, a team of British engineers unveiled the Bloodhound SSC, touted as the most powerful land vehicle ever made. This massive orange and blue ride that actually looks like a rocken when standing on its back end weighs in at 7.5 tons and meatures more than 44 feet long. It's powered by a Rolls Royce EJ200 jet engine, like those used in the Typhoon fighter jet, as well as a Nammo hybrid rocket engine. And there's a supercharged Jaguar V8 engine aboard to pump the oxidizer required for the rocket to burn. the setup allows for the equivalent of 135,000 bhp of thrust. Wheels are made of a long long, thin cylinder of pressed aluminum and spin at 10,500rpm, which means that the radial G on the rim is 50,000 times the force of gravity. But they look nothing like automotive wheels as we know them. All metal, no r...

September 25, 2015


Pope Francis Goes Low-Glam With New Popemobile

Pope Francis Goes Low-Glam With New Popemobile

Pope Francis has won hearts across many faiths in large part to his sincere love for and relatability to the regular guy. After all, Papa Francisco, as he's endearingly known, once worked as a bar bouncer and a floor sweeper, for Pete's sake. He further solidified that persona during his trip to the US when he skipped dinner with our nation's highest-level politicos, instead dining with area homeless. He's proven time and time again that he's not above snapping a selfie with members of his flock. And for automotive enthusiasts, he has repeatedly humbled the papal fleet with his choice of rides decidedly less glam than those of previous popes. The earliest popemobile was actually a gilded throne or "sedan chair" carried on posts by footmen with some serious strength. It first got wheels in 1800 with a series of ornate, red velvet-upholstered, horsedrawn carriages. Not until 1929 did the papal ride get motorized. And during the later half of the 20th century, all popemobiles underwe...

September 25, 2015


Holy Copyright Fight! Batmobile Replica Maker Shut Down

Holy Copyright Fight! Batmobile Replica Maker Shut Down

Just in case you were looking forward to plunking down a cool $90,000 to drive your very own Batmobile replica, too bad. A federal judge in San Francisco recently shot down Gotham Garage owner Mark Towle's highly successful business making street-legal replicas of the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 Batman television series and the 1989 Batman movie starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader. Ninth Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta ruled that the car has enough distinct character traits to be deemed eligible for copyright protection. "As Batman so sagely told Robin, 'In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential,'" Judge Ikuta wrote.Towle's attorney Larry Zerner argued the law holds that automobile designs are not subject to copyright. "My client just sells cars," Zerner told reporters. "The car is not a character. The car is a car."Unfortunately for Towle, and ultimately for Batman fans and classic car buffs everywhere, a unanimous three-judge panel di...

September 24, 2015


Worst Excuses Actually Used to Dodge Speeding Tickets

Worst Excuses Actually Used to Dodge Speeding Tickets

Let's face it - A lot of us have a need for speed, but nobody likes getting nabbed with a speeding ticket. So, we can come up with some real doozies of excuses to dodge a high-dollar citation. PoliceOne.com, an online resource for law enforcement professionals, asked officers nationwide to tell about the best, worst and craziest lines they've received from lead-footed drivers. Here are 10 of our favorites here at E3 Spark Plugs. "I wasn't speeding, I just got a haircut and it makes me look fast." "I'm a Wicka. You know, a witch. Are you giving me a ticket? I'll put a spell on you." "Oh, I thought the sign I 95 meant the speed limit. Glad you didn't catch me over on SR 210 earlier." "Duh, I know I was going fast, I was trying to get the snow off my windshield so I could see where I'm going." "My car has a recall on it for unexplained acceleration and I'm on my way to get it fixed." "I have a cold and when I cough, my foot mashes the pedal." "The box says 'If you have an e...

September 24, 2015


Here's How NOT to Dodge Speeding Ticket

Here's How NOT to Dodge Speeding Ticket

File this one in the "dumbest criminals" folder, E3 Spark Plugs fans. Florida man Julius Lupowitz recently got nabbed for his lead food in West Melbourne. But what he did to dodge the $200 speeding ticket coming his way only ended up getting him in far worse legal trouble. When the officer writing Lupowitz's ticket turned around, the delusional driver got the not-so-bright idea to dial 911 with a bogus claim. "There's definitely someone going to get shot," he reportedly told 911 operators. "Please, please. Wingate and Hollywood. Please. There's a man with a gun. I see him looking at me but I don't think he sees I'm on a cell phone. I swear I'm so scared I might get killed myself. Please."Apparently, Lupowitz mistakenly thought that the officer would have no choice but to speed off to an arguably more serious scene. Guess he didn't realize the city is protected by a whole department rather than a single cop. It didn't take long for the officer's cohorts to realize they were chasin...

September 24, 2015


Diesel Scandal Prompts Massive Volkswagen Recall - Is Your Ride Affected?

Diesel Scandal Prompts Massive Volkswagen Recall - Is Your Ride Affected?

All the talk in the automotive world lately is the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. The company recently admitted it falsified output of carbon emissions from diesel cars by programming engine management software in some diesel models to turn on emission controls only during testing. Once affected vehicles passed testing and returned to the roadways, they would rup up to 40 times more emissions than revealed at the test site, according to officials with the US Environmental Protection Agency. That's one dirty move. In the aftermath of the confession, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down and the company issued a recall of some 11 million vehicles in the US alone, with upward of $7.2 billion set aside to cover related costs. Affected models are: Jetta (Manufacturing year 2009 – 2015) Jetta Sportwagen (MY 2009-2014) Beetle (MY 2012 – 2015) Beetle Convertible (MY 2012-2015) Audi A3 (MY 2010 – 2015) Golf (MY 2010 – 2015) Golf Sportwagen (MY 2015) Passat...

September 23, 2015


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