Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we've got reports from Petrolicious, Spectrum, Hemmings and The New York Times.
Unclean At Any Speed — Spectrum
Just how clean are electric cars? Not as clean as you think...
Last summer, California highway police pulled over pop star Justin Bieber as he sped through Los Angeles in an attempt to shake the paparazzi. He was driving a hybrid electric car—not just any hybrid, mind you, but a chrome-plated Fisker Karma, a US $100 000 plug-in hybrid sports sedan he’d received as an 18th-birthday gift from his manager, Scooter Braun, and fellow singer Usher. During an on-camera surprise presentation, Braun remarked, “We wanted to make sure, since you love cars, that when you are on the road you are always looking environmentally friendly, and we decided to get you a car that would make you stand out a little bit.” Mission accomplished.
The XK120 Fathered The British Supercar — Petrolicious
For a time, the XK120 wasn't only the fastest Jaguar, it was also the fastest car in the world. Is it the father of all our current supercars? Probably.
One hundred and twenty miles per hour isn’t all that impressive a top speed in 2013, really, It wasn’t even all that impressive 20 years ago. Today, even bare-bones economy trolleys are usually capable of this speed, as I may or may not have recently confirmed through abuse of a rented Chevy Sonic. In late 1940s England, however, the only way one could travel at two miles a minute while remaining on the ground was by land speed record steam locomotive, as typical day-to-day cars of the era were lucky to touch 80 MPH downhill and with a stiff tailwind. Things would change very soon.
The man, myth, legend: Cannon Ball Baker. This is worth a read.
Say the name Erwin George Baker, and all but those truly passionate about racing history are likely to look on with a blank stare. Drop in the nickname of “Cannon Ball,” however, and suddenly the name will be familiar to motorsports (and movie) fans of all ages. Though most closely associated with motorcycle racing, Baker’s career was both lengthy and diverse, and included time spent as a machinist, vaudeville artist, bicycle racer, motorcycle racer, cross-country record holder and even the first commissioner of NASCAR.
The Rock 'N Roll Casualty Who Became A War Hero — The New York Times
Ok, look, this isn't about cars. Not even tangentially. But these guy was in Nirvana. Then he was in Soundgarden. Then he went into the army. Now we need a movie about him.
The first time was at Fort Benning in 1994, in the middle of the hell of basic training. The ex-cop recruits in boot camp with him said that prisoners had more freedom than they did. There were guys who faked suicide attempts to get out of basic. But Everman never had any doubts. “I was 100 percent,” he told me. “If I wasn’t, there was no way I’d get through it.”