Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today, we have reports from Road & Track, The Atlantic and Smithsonian.
Driving the original Volkswagen Phaeton – Road & Track
This news of a new VW Phaeton coming to the US in 2018 makes us think of the last time VW announced a Phaeton for Americans. So flash back to 10 years ago and see what R&T thought of the Phaeton. Hint: it's slow, expensive but absolutely beautiful.
Truth be told, VW is expecting the Phaeton to be a tough sell. Sales have been dismal in Europe and it probably won't be any easier in the US. VW's eventual goal is to sell between 4000-5000 Phaetons per year in the States, but they don't plan on anywhere near that number to begin. Get this: VW officials so fully understand just how tough the road is ahead of them (and they are so committed to this program, hence the brand-new factory) that they expect the Phaeton might not reach its numbers until its second or possibly third generation!
Eyes Over Compton: How Police Spied on a Whole City – The Atlantic
Apparently the LAPD used this spying tech to investigate necklace thefts. No word if they solved those crimes.
Compton residents weren't told about the spying, which happened in 2012. "We literally watched all of Compton during the times that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people," Ross McNutt of Persistence Surveillance Systems told the Center for Investigative Reporting, which unearthed and did the first reporting on this important story. The technology he's trying to sell to police departments all over America can stay aloft for up to six hours. Like Google Earth, it enables police to zoom in on certain areas. And like TiVo, it permits them to rewind, so that they can look back and see what happened anywhere they weren't watching in real time.
Why Do We Love R2-D2 and Not C-3PO? – Smithsonian
Easy. C-3PO is just too uptight and high maintenance. And I didn't mean for that to be a pun, I swear.
With its stubby little body, blooping voice and wide round eye, R2-D2 was a curiously endearing machine. Fans went crazy for the droid, knitting winter hats in its shape and building computer cases that looked like its body. Even Star Wars actors went a bit googly-eyed when they were on the set alongside the droid.
"There is something about R2-D2," as the robot's original designer, Tony Dyson, has said, "that people just want to cuddle."
Photo: Getty Images