Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we've got reports from Silodrome, Architect, Tablet, and The Economist.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something golden in the shape of two arches.
1930 BUGATTI TYPE 46 COUPÉ SUPERPROFILÉE – Silodrome
There's no price listed for this Bugatti Type 46, which means it ain't cheap. Still, it's probably worth it.
With a wheelbase of 3.5 metres the Superprofilée wasn’t exactly a light-weight, the car used a steel ladder-chassis and implemented the same cable-operated brakes that Bugatti was famous for. His distaste for hydraulics was never really explained and so many of his otherwise very advanced cars still used relatively primitive cable systems to actuate the brake shoes.
Now Hiring: McArchitect – Architect
The McDonald's store is the most recognize drive thru in the world, but I'll be honest and admit I've never thought of them even having architects until I read this piece from my old friend Kriston Capps.
Some of the earliest buildings remain great. I'm lovin' the oldest, still-operating McDonald's store, in Downey, Calif., a solid example of Googie architecture (or Populuxe if you prefer). That store was designed by Stanley Meston, the first Architect of the Arches, and opened in 1953. When Ray Kroc bought the McDonald's company and opened his own franchise in Des Plaines, Ill. (pictured, courtesy of Flickr), he took Meston's so-called Golden Arches with him, if not the architect himself. Meston got the job with the original McDonald brothers because he was willing to take instructions from the client, but Kroc only needed the original building concept in order to spin out clones. (Meston's story, as told by the Los Angeles Times in 1989, three years before his death, is worth your time.)
Clean, safe and it drives itself – The Economist
We obviously speak often about the future of self-driving cars, but it's nice to look at a general interest piece like this one from The Economist that provides a nice overview as to where we are right now and what the future holds.
If and when cars go completely driverless—for those who want this—the benefits will be enormous. Google gave a taste by putting a blind man in a prototype and filming him being driven off to buy takeaway tacos. Huge numbers of elderly and disabled people could regain their personal mobility. The young will not have to pay crippling motor insurance, because their reckless hands and feet will no longer touch the wheel or the accelerator. The colossal toll of deaths and injuries from road accidents—1.2m killed a year worldwide, and 2m hospital visits a year in America alone—should tumble down, along with the costs to health systems and insurers.
Cracking the Voynich Code – Tablet
Something we're always vulnerable to is a hoax and, specifically, we're at risk of falling for hoax because we believe something to be too complex to be fake. We've been cautious and fortuitous, but don't think we can't or won't be had. It's the risk you take this far out on the edge.
Think about that as you read this story of a strange manuscript that no one has yet cracked.
Rugg began by analyzing the reasoning used by the experts who had as yet failed to decipher the manuscript. He found that the prevailing notion, that the manuscript represents an encoded message, was based on a certain analytic, namely, that it was too weird to be a language, but too complex to be a hoax; therefore, the reasoning went, it must be a code. Because the idea of a hoax was so easily discarded, it flashed like a red light for Rugg, who proceeded to teach himself Voynichese (“I can now write Voynichese faster than I can write English,” he told me) and to investigate how hard it would be to create the manuscript from scratch. Using a simple table and grille (a chart of letters, and a square paper with two boxes cut out), Rugg was able to recreate the Voynich Manuscript in a manner of months, syllable structure, drawings, and all.
Photo Credit: Darin Schnabel ©2012 Courtesy of RM Auctions, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, Getty Images