Why The VW Beetle Is A Universal Standard Of Weight And Measure

The sheer volume of things that are measured in terms of the classic VW Beetle is staggering. From whale hearts to heavy artillery, one object is used more often than any other to give a perspective of size and weight. The Beetle's role as a standard unit of measurement is an unsung achievement. Let's take care of… » 2/07/14 4:20pm 2/07/14 4:20pm

Your Guide To Europe's Weirdest Car Culture: Raggare

Why are people in Sweden waving Confederate flags and driving old muscle cars? It's all part of a unique little subculture in Sweden, called Raggare, and they're just about as far removed as possible from donks. What's their deal with America? As part of our semi-ongoing series, allow me to explain. » 6/08/13 12:28pm 6/08/13 12:28pm

This 1833 Letter Is The Very First Instance Of Calling Bullshit On An…

It's almost reassuring to know that since the absolute earliest days of human motorized travel, there have been people writing about cars, and people calling bullshit on what's written about cars. These exchanges should seem incredibly familiar to most of our readers even if they happened nearly 200 years ago. The… » 3/20/13 2:00pm 3/20/13 2:00pm

The First Automobile Of Any Type Was Built By This Flemish Priest In…

The pre-history of automobiles is really pretty murky. As much as Mercedes-Benz likes to claim the invention of the motor car, the truth is much more complicated, with many different inventors adding parts to what eventually became the car. Most people would point to Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot's 1769/1771 artillery… » 3/11/13 2:00pm 3/11/13 2:00pm

Meet Bertha Benz, The Woman Who Took The First Real Drive

As Google's doodle reminded me, today is International Women's Day. It's kind of alarming how much I rely on something called a "Google Doodle" to know what's going on. So, in honor of women, I'd like to talk about one woman who's been a hero of mine for many years: Bertha Benz, the first person to take a real road… » 3/08/13 3:45pm 3/08/13 3:45pm

The Spark Plug Started Out As A Really Dangerous Toy

Once you realize that pretty much everything around you, no matter how seemingly small and insignificant, has a story behind it, the world becomes much more interesting. Your car is packed full of parts with good stories behind them (the tragic tale of Sir Nathan Airfilter comes to mind) but the one I'd like to talk… » 3/05/13 2:00pm 3/05/13 2:00pm

What Do We Call Extra Windshield Pillars?

People who are interested in cars enjoy calling parts of a car by their proper names. "Wheel," for example, has such a more refined sound than "roundy roller-maker, what's under the get-inside part." You can usually tell when someone is interested in cars by their use of proper terms, such as the names for the parts… » 1/21/13 1:40pm 1/21/13 1:40pm

How A $50 Bet Sparked America's First Cross-Country Road Trip

What's the craziest thing you've ever done on a bet? Shaved your head? Snuck into a party when you weren't on the guest list? Played Russian Roulette with some enforcers from a Mexican drug cartel? (I would advise against the last one, personally. Things tend to go south a lot faster than you might expect.) » 1/20/13 12:00pm 1/20/13 12:00pm

This Early Steam Car Used Mechanical Feet To Move

The history of cars goes way back before Benz's motorwagen, despite what the marketing folks at Mercedes-Benz want you to believe. One of my favorite periods in automobile development was in the early 1800s, when steam technology was just starting to mature, and rail locomotives and road-going steam vehicles were… » 11/27/12 4:00pm 11/27/12 4:00pm