Junkyard Gem: 1977 MG MGB

The British Motor Corporation and (later on) British Leyland built the MGB sports car for nearly two full decades, and the primitive-but-sturdy B sold very well in North America. Because of the car’s popularity and simple construction, plenty of project MGBs remain in garages, driveways, and yards throughout the land, and some of these cars end up getting swept out during cleaning frenzies and towed to junkyards. Here’s one of those, a black-bumper ’77 convertible in a Denver self-service yard.

American crash-safety and headlight-height regulations led to the US-market MGB receiving massive plastic bumpers and an extra inch in ride height, starting in the 1974 model year. These “black bumper” cars are nowhere near as coveted by enthusiasts as their chrome-bumper predecessors, and the Pininfarina-designed MGB-GT hatchbacks are worth a lot more than the convertibles nowadays. I daily-drove a British Racing Green chrome-bumper MGB-GT for a few years, and so it always pains me a bit to see these cars discarded.

The corrosion is pretty bad on this one, though, so it had no real chance of being rescued. You can still find good deals on un-rusted black-bumper MGBs these days.

You didn’t get much power in your 1977 MGB in North America, with a mere 62.5 horsepower from this 1.8-liter pushrod straight-four. Yes, British Leyland claimed the half-horse.

This car was on the road recently enough to get a Goodmans cassette deck that appears to be from the current century.

We can hope this car donates many parts to still-running MGBs before its final date with the cold steel jaws of the crusher.

British Leyland had everything in 1977!

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Source: AutoBlog.com

1972 Dodge Challenger on an M1009 CUCV military frame is YES

The subject of this post is cause for celebration, not reason to ask “But why?” We don’t know why this random Craigslist seller chose to marry the body of a 1972 Dodge Challenger with the frame and axles from a 1987 Chevrolet M1009 military vehicle. We’re here to appreciate it, thanks to The Drive, and maybe spend some time after dinner considering whether to buy it. Now that we’re on the same page, an owner in Tucson wants to rid his garage — or his Bullet Farm — of what appears to be an exceptionally well built conversion. Starting from the bottom, the M1009 CUCV, for Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle or “Cuckvee,” emerged from a program turning K5 Blazers into supply rigs that were meant to support hardcore hardware like the AM General Humvee. The M1009 got GM’s 6.2-liter Detroit Diesel V8, a TH400 transmission, an NP-208 chain-driven transfer case, a 10-bolt rear axle and 3.08 gears. Produced from 1983 to 1987, they returned “less than desirable” results in the field and the military unloaded them.

Not much of that remains for this build. The diesel got dropped, replaced by a 5.7-liter GM gasser with a four-barrel carb and long-tube headers, shifting though a 4L80E automatic transmission attached to a U.S. Shift Quick 1 transmission controller in the cabin. The seller doesn’t mention output, but if it’s a more recent Chevy 350 then it’ll certainly provide a healthy bump over the maximum 160 horsepower from the diesel, especially running through a custom Flowmaster dual exhaust. An NP-205 two-speed transfer case switches between 2H, 4L, and 4H. The Dana 44 front and Dana 60 rear axles feature lockers and 3.52 gearing in back. Skyjacker Black Max provides the suspension to keep the 37-inch BFG KM2 on the pavement or the dirt. About 11,000 miles ago the owner rebuilt and upgraded the drivetrain, installing new accessories like a high-rise intake, four-core radiator, new alternator and Holley fuel pump.

Losing the K5 body for an E-body Challenger cap means losing M1009 features like the rifle rack and gas can mounts. But you gain style, something real hard to find on a vehicle stout enough to back you up when you tell the crew, “I’ve been to hell and I’m going back.” As part of that rebuild a few miles back, the minimalist interior got all new panels, dash and custom gauges, headliner, seats, and a Sony audio system with Alpine amps, a sub, and Kenwood speakers. Compromised vision out the back is partly restored with a back-up camera and a rear-facing LED light. As for the cosmetics, the listing says, “The body and paint on this car are clean and straight with only minor issues (as any 45 year old car would have) but is definitely a show stopper.”

The owner says he put $45,000 into the build, with receipts to prove it, and is asking $29,000. That’s a reduced price we’re told, but the number is $1,000 more than when the car showed up on Craigslist in the San Francisco Bay area two years ago with 7,300 fewer miles. This could be the same owner, in fact, since the Tucson listing says the car is in the Bay Area. 

Nevertheless, even for $29,000, where could you get a turnkey build with all the right components for that money? There are tons of cheap M1009 parts on eBay, but a decent frame is going to cost at least $5,000, and good lucking finding a donor Challenger body for less than frightening money. This is the American muscle version of the Porsche-911-based RS Syberia that was built on a Humvee chassis; it’s not as shiny as the Porsche, but it’s just as cool for a fraction of the price. And as another scribe wrote when the Challenger got put on the front lawn in 2017, “Listen, there will be racing after the world ends. You need to be prepared.”

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Source: AutoBlog.com

$4.5M Maryland mansion has a brick street with classic cars in its basement

At one extremely large residence in Potomac, Maryland, the residents need not call the driver to head into town. Instead, the people who lived and will live in this house can simply take a walk downstairs to hit up the post office, or the theater, or the massage parlor. These faux shops are just a small part of a re-created old-style downtown strip, complete with a brick drive and classic collector cars. 

Brought to light by Twitter user @victoriaxxviii, 11610 Highland Farm Road, Potomac, Maryland, is a 12,089-square-foot gated mansion that sits on four acres, with the opportunity to buy two more next to it. It has seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms in the main house, a guest house with two bedrooms and a bathroom, and a pool house with a full kitchen and a bathroom. The place also has a heated pool and a tennis court. Yet, none of that would be of interest if not for the items hidden in the home’s finished basement. 

Best understood by seeing the photos above, the lower level of the house was built to resemble an old town. In addition to the aforementioned stores, it also has a sports shop, a flower shop, an inn, a tattoo parlor, a church, and most important, an auto repair shop and gas station. The repair shop is key, as there are several collectible cars positioned throughout the winding town road. Seen in the photos are a Citroën 2CV, a Jaguar E-Type roadster, a scooter, and a third vintage car that appears to be from the ’20s or ’30s. 

The house was built in 1987 and features four garage spots. It is currently listed for $4.5 million, but it is unclear if the downstairs cars are included in the purchase. Visit
Washington Fine Properties for more photos of the house and extra information about its amenities.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

2020 Chevy Corvette loses High Rear Wing option, but gains new accessories

Toward the end of March, the Corvette Forum got confirmation Chevrolet yanked availability of the High Wing Spoiler, Chevrolet listing the reason as a “Supplier Restriction.” Corvette Blogger reported the same week that the wing supplier had shut down due to the coronavirus, but the wing revocation only applied to Corvettes with a target build of the week of April 20. The automaker notice had come only six days after GM closed the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, long before anyone knew what the last two months would look like. In the interim, it seems things have changed: Muscle Cars & Trucks writes that “the [High Wing Spoiler] option will no longer be available for 2020” in either painted or carbon fiber flavors. If this is true, the wing goes the way of the visible carbon fiber aero kit that GM had to strip from orders earlier this year because the supplier couldn’t meet demand.

MCT says the complete aero kit won’t return before next year, but certain kit components are available in painted finishes right now, and visible carbon rocker panels will become a standalone option in Q3 of this year. 

Corvette Blogger reports a number of other options being added to the configurator in Q3, announced during the virtual National Corvette Museum bash when Corvette team members revealed two new colors for 2021 and an unchanged MSRP on the entry-level 1LT trim. There’ll be new floor mats and cargo liners with Corvette Racing’s “Jake” logo, priced at $195 for the mats and $135 for the load liners. A new indoor car cover with C8.R graphics is on the way in Yellow #3 livery first, priced at $1,195. Depending on demand, a Silver #4 livery could follow. Chevy is also working on ultra-high security lug nuts that enhance protection beyond the $90 wheel lock kit offered now. We’ve only seen one C8 on blocks so far, but it leaves a lasting impression.

The Corvette seems to be making the most of this wild year, though. Team members said there are 20,801 orders in the books for 2020, counting the roughly 2,700 cars already built and the production backlog. Slides from the presentation show America’s sports car leading the luxury sports segment through the first four months of this year, moving 4,977 units compared to the second-placed Porsche 911 at 3,128 units. The BMW 8 Series is the only other model in the top 10 to break into four figures, at 1,654 units. Most buyers have stumped for the top-shelf 3LT trim in both coupe (44%) and convertible (56%) trims. Torch Red is by far the most popular exterior color at 25%, Arctic White uptake at 15% and black at 12%. Jet Black interiors account for 28% of sales, Jet Black contrasted with Red or Yellow accounts for another 15% combined. The most popular option by miles is the performance exhaust. The Z51 package has had 22% uptake, but 89% percent of buyers have gone with the rorty pipes.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

This 21-foot-tall Willys replica is the world’s largest running Jeep

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Jeep’s long-awaited Ram 1500-based Grand Wagoneer will likely become its biggest model to date when it goes on sale in 2021. It won’t be the world’s largest Jeep, though, far from it. That honor goes to a fully-functional, 21-foot-tall replica of a World War II-era Willys built and displayed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This colossal off-roader wasn’t created to star in a multi-million dollar marketing campaign, and it’s not the product of a major misunderstanding in the company’s research and development department. It was commissioned by Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan al Nahyan, a member of the UAE’s royal family sometimes known as the Rainbow Sheikh and famous globally for his eclectic collection of over 200 cars. It’s too big to fit inside the pyramid-shaped museum he opened on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, so it’s propped up on four pieces of wood right outside of it, next to a nine-bedroom globe-shaped trailer that’s exactly one million times smaller than the Earth.

It’s hard to get a sense of scale of the thing, but check out the third photo in the gallery, which shows it alongside normal-sized vehicles.

Some of the Jeep’s details aren’t historically correct. Its grille is closer to a CJ’s than to the one worn by the Willys, but it’s by and large a surprisingly accurate replica. An enormous ax and a huge shovel are attached to the driver’s side of the body, and a gas can that’s taller than the average adult is strapped to the rear end.

It runs and drives, too. Peek through the grille’s slats and you’ll spot the normal-sized three-spoke steering wheel used to turn the front wheels. There’s an engine right in front of it, though technical specifications have never been published, and we couldn’t climb up to pop the hood when we took the photos. It evidently hasn’t moved much in recent years, but it was crowned the world’s largest motorized car by Guinness Records in 2010. 

The cost of building this jumbo Jeep has never been made public, either, but it must be substantial. There was no donor car to start with and no template to follow; nearly every part was made from scratch and assembled by hand. Then again, we’re talking about a billionaire who once paid to have his name carved into a private island (it stretched two miles wide and could be seen from space) and later paid to have it removed when he changed his mind. Building a giant Jeep is comparatively affordable. And, at least he had past projects to gain experience from: He also commissioned a replica of a Dodge Power Wagon (shown above) that dwarfs the original.

Once inside the pyramid, you’re surrounded by a stunningly diverse assortment of cars that includes a rainbow-colored Mercedes-Benz W126 with flared rear fenders and side exhausts, a Dodge Viper, a hot-rodded Chevrolet Nova, a Volkswagen Beetle-based dune buggy made in the UAE, plus a jaw-dropping assortment of 4x4s built by Suzuki, Toyota, Land Rover, Jeep, Nissan, and Mercedes-Benz. It’s also the only place in the world where you can find an AMC Pacer, a Mini Moke, a Daihatsu Midget II, and a Premier Padmini, and a San Diego-built Crofton Bug under the same roof. Viewed in this light, the mammoth Jeep parked out front almost looks normal.

Source: AutoBlog.com

SpaceX rocket blasts into orbit with 2 American astronauts

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A rocket built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company thundered away from Earth with two Americans on Saturday, ushering in a new era in commercial space travel and putting the United States back in the business of launching astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

NASA’s Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken rode skyward aboard a sleek, white-and-black, bullet-shaped Dragon capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, lifting off at 3:22 p.m. from the same launch pad used to send the Apollo astronauts to the moon a half-century ago. Minutes later, they safely slipped into orbit.

“Let’s light this candle,” Hurley said just before ignition, borrowing the words used by Alan Shepard on America’s first human spaceflight, in 1961.

The two men are scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station on Sunday for a stay of up to four months, after which they will return to Earth in a Right Stuff-style splashdown at sea.

The mission unfolded amid the gloom of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed over 100,000 Americans, and racial unrest across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police. NASA officials and others held out hope the flight would would be a morale-booster.

“Maybe there’s an opportunity here for America to maybe pause and look up and see a bright, shining moment of hope at what the future looks like, that the United States of America can do extraordinary things even in difficult times,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said before launch.

With the on-time liftoff, SpaceX, founded by Musk, the Tesla electric-car visionary, became the first private company to launch people into orbit, a feat achieved previously by only three governments: the U.S., Russia and China.

The flight also ended a nine-year launch drought for NASA, the longest such hiatus in its history. Ever since it retired the space shuttle in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian spaceships launched from Kazakhstan to take U.S. astronauts to and from the space station.

In the intervening years, NASA outsourced the job of designing and building its next generation of spaceships to SpaceX and Boeing, awarding them $7 billion in contracts in a public-private partnership aimed at driving down costs and spurring innovation. Boeing’s spaceship, the Starliner capsule, is not expected to fly astronauts until early 2021.

Musk said earlier in the week that the project is aimed at “reigniting the dream of space and getting people fired up about the future.”

Ultimately, NASA hopes to rely in part on its commercial partners as it works to send astronauts back to the moon in the next few years, and on to Mars in the 2030s.

Before setting out for the launch pad in a gull-wing Tesla SUV — another Musk product — Behnken pantomimed a hug of his 6-year-old son, Theo, and said: “Are you going to listen to Mommy and make her life easy?” Hurley blew kisses to his 10-year-old son and wife.

A launch attempt on Wednesday was called off with less than 17 minutes to go in the countdown because of lightning. On Saturday, stormy weather in Florida threatened another postponement for most of the day, but then the skies began to clear in the afternoon just in time.

Nine minutes after liftoff, the 260-foot rocket’s first-stage booster landed, as designed, on a barge a few hundred miles off the Florida coast, to be reused on another flight.

“Thanks for the great ride to space,” Hurley told SpaceX ground control. He and his crewmate batted around a sparkly purple toy, demonstrating that they had reached zero gravity.

Bridenstine pronounced it “just an amazing day.” SpaceX controllers at Hawthorne, California, cheered and applauded wildly.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence flew in for the launch attempt for the second time in four days.

“I’m so proud of the people at NASA, all the people that worked together, public and private. When you see a sight like that it’s incredible,” Trump said after liftoff.

Inside Kennedy Space Center, attendance was strictly limited because of the coronavirus, and the small crowd of a few thousand was a shadow of what it would have been without the threat of COVID-19. By NASA’s count, over 3 million viewers tuned in online.

Despite NASA’s insistence that the public stay safe by staying home, spectators gathered along beaches and roads hours in advance.

Among them was Neil Wight, a machinist from Buffalo, New York, who staked out a view of the launch pad from a park in Titusville.

“It’s pretty historically significant in my book, and a lot of other people’s books. With everything that’s going on in this country right now, it’s important that we do things extraordinary in life,” Wight said. “We’ve been bombarded with doom and gloom for the last six, eight weeks, whatever it is, and this is awesome. It brings a lot of people together.”

Because of the coronavirus, the astronauts were kept in quasi-quarantine for more than two months before liftoff. The SpaceX technicians who helped them get into their spacesuits wore masks and gloves that made them look like black-clad ninjas. And at the launch center, the SpaceX controllers were seated far apart.

Hurley, a 53-year-old retired Marine, and Behnken, 49, an Air Force colonel, are veterans of two space shuttle flights each. Hurley piloted the space shuttle on the last launch of astronauts from Kennedy, on July 8, 2011.

In keeping with Musk’s penchant for futuristic flash, the astronauts wore angular white uniforms with black trim. Instead of the usual multitude of dials, knobs and switches, the Dragon capsule has three large touchscreens.

SpaceX has been launching cargo capsules to the space station since 2012. In preparation for Wednesday’s flight, SpaceX sent up a Dragon capsule with only a test dummy aboard last year, and it docked smoothly at the orbiting outpost on autopilot, then returned to Earth in a splashdown.

During the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs, NASA relied on aerospace contractors to build spacecraft according to the agency’s designs. NASA owned and operated the ships.

Under the new, 21st-century partnership, aerospace companies design, build, own and operate the spaceships, and NASA is essentially a paying customer on a list that could eventually include non-government researchers, artists and tourists. (Tom Cruise has already expressed interest.)

“What Elon Musk has done for the American space program is he has brought vision and inspiration that we hadn’t had” since the shuttle’s retirement, Bridenstine said.

The mission is technically considered by SpaceX and NASA to be a test flight. The next SpaceX voyage to the space station, set for the end of August, will have a full, four-person crew: three Americans and one Japanese.

Wednesday’s first human flight was originally targeted for around 2015. But NASA’s commercial crew program encountered bureaucratic delays and technical setbacks.

A SpaceX capsule exploded on the test stand last year. Boeing’s first Starliner capsule ended up in the wrong orbit during an crew-less test flight in December and was nearly destroyed at the mission’s end. Both companies had trouble with such things as the landing parachutes.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Wildest rideshare driving experiences

Driving for Uber and Lyft is usually pretty mundane. You don’t get crazy passengers all that often — thankfully — because crazy passengers come with a lot of baggage. Sure, they give you good stories to tell and re-tell for years to come, but I’m not sure that makes up for the damage they do or pain they might inflict.

In fact, some “crazy” passengers can put a driver’s job at risk or his health and every now and then his life. Very rarely does a driver escape a brush with a wild and crazy passenger with just a good laugh and some funny stories. These experiences usually come with some degree of pain and suffering for the driver.

Here, let me share a few driving stories and see if you get the idea.

The crazy

During a ride when Uber first came to town, I picked up a foreign exchange student along with some of his friends from a bar near the college they attended.

The college was having a welcome reception for all the new students. As they approached my car, I could see that he and his friends seemed a little “off.” And by “a little off” I mean they were drunk out of their minds. A couple of them were on the sad side while the other couple were more on the agitated side. I couldn’t tell if they were going to fight or cry, but I knew something bad was headed my way.

Halfway through the ride, the friend who was sitting in the back middle seat suddenly started freaking out. He pulled his MacBook Pro out of his backpack and started smashing it against the back window of my car. Startled, I immediately pulled over and demanded that he get out. His friends, though, were insistent that we finish the trip and they assured me they would take care of him and make sure he did no further damage.

The guy on each side of him each held one of his arms down until we got to the destination. Halfway there, though, that same guy broke into tears and cried his eyes out the rest of the ride!

In the end, they made it all worth my time with a rare $100 cash tip. It was a nice gesture, but I was never sure if it made up for the scratches left behind on my door. There’s always a cost to the driver for these bizarre stories.

That was one of the weirdest rides I had had until one night when I got a call to pick up a couple from an MMA fight at an arena in town.

When I arrived at their pickup location, I saw the two of them standing there, a grown man and a grown woman. They looked like nice people, and I had no idea what was coming my way.

Upon entering my car, they immediately started bickering. They didn’t want to keep their bickering private. They made it apparent before we even got out of the parking lot that they wanted to drag me into it. Each of them wanted me to take their side.

There were cars everywhere and it was taking what felt like forever just to get out of the parking lot — as usually happens during sporting events and concerts.

When it was finally my turn to exit out onto the street, out of nowhere this massive white lifted Ford F-150 comes barreling the wrong way down the street and headed straight toward the car in front of me. It stopped just before it hit it, and four guys jumped out of each vehicle and start beating the crap out of each other. Fortunately, the police showed up in near record time.

All this time I’m still sitting behind that car watching the fight and fearing for my life. But at the same time the couple in the back seat had not shut up, and they were still trying to suck me into their fight. They were going at it so hard they didn’t even notice the street brawl going on right in front of us.

Once everything finally cleared, I took them to their destination without saying a word. I decided after that ride I would head home, so I drove the 30 minutes back across town. Just as I pulled into my driveway, I noticed the grown woman had left her cell phone in the back seat. I drove all the way back across town to their location where I found them still fighting. I wasn’t sure how they’d react when they saw me again, but I rang their bell and told them I had their phone. They were so pleased they tipped $100. No joke. It was crazy, but awesome! 

The illegal

People don’t realize, but when there is a traffic or driving law that effects Uber rides, it is ultimately up to the driver to enforce it. If passengers request a driver to do something that’s illegal, there are no police on the scene. There is no one from Uber shaking a finger and saying, “No, no, no… that’s not allowed.” All of that falls to the driver.

So one Friday night, I was out driving and picking up college kids from the local bars and transporting them to other local bars. I got a ping, and when I arrived at the pickup location, four drunk college kids got in. They closed the doors and I thought we were on our way, so I started the trip on the app and pulled out of the parking space.

The minute the car was in motion one of the kids shouted, “Wait! Stop!” So, I stopped, and suddenly one of the back doors flung open and another kid piled in. Since I wasn’t drunk, though, I immediately knew that was too many kids in the back seat.

I’m allowed, by state law, to drive four passengers and no more, and my state takes that law very seriously. In fact, they have cops staking out the local bars, looking for this specific violation. I told the college kids that one of them, or all of them, have to get out. I was adamant and firm in my resolution not to break this particular law. The penalties are really stiff and not something I needed on my driving record.

The kid in the front seat said, “Ah, come on man, we’re just going a few blocks and no cops will see us.” I said, “No.” He pleaded more, “Please, just take us, we’re almost there!” I felt like saying if we’re almost there then why don’t you just walk? But I remembered I had started the trip which means they would now have the ability to rate me. Once a driver indicates to the app that the trip has begun, the passenger will always have the ability to rate the driver. If I hadn’t pushed the “Start Trip” button in the driver app, they couldn’t have left a rating and I would have kicked them all out on the spot.

But knowing they could rate me now, I wanted to try to handle it in the most diplomatic way possible, so they wouldn’t have additional reasons to give me a one-star rating.

Finally, the kid in the front seat made his best offer, he said, “if you take us, I’ll give you a really big tip.” To which I replied, “How are you going to give a big enough tip to compensate me in case a cop does pull us over and gives me a ticket for this, which would then lead to me being deactivated by Uber for at least the next three years until this violation expires from my record? And how are you going to give me a big enough tip to compensate me for the higher insurance rates I’ll have to pay for the next few years as a result of a ticket?”

With that, he realized I wasn’t going to change my mind so he motioned for his buddies to get out. Phew! That ended relatively drama-free. But a few minutes later I got a notice on the Uber driver app telling me someone had complained that I had acted in an “unprofessional manner.” Upon checking my rating, it had sure enough gone down by the exact amount it would have gone down if someone had left me one star. I tried to contact Uber to let them know the reason they gave me one star is because I wouldn’t break the law for them. Uber, as usual, didn’t care.

There’s always a cost to the driver for these crazy stories.

The dangerous

I mentioned that it falls to drivers to enforce any laws that are relevant during a rideshare trip. It also falls to drivers to enforce any rules Uber itself may impose on passengers.

Recently Uber issued a new rule requiring all drivers and all passengers to wear face masks during Uber trips. That strikes me as a reasonable requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic, because we drivers may have up to 15-20 people in our car in a single day. We’re cooped up with them in a very small space with no ventilation, making it the ideal conditions for the virus to spread.

Literally, the first passenger I picked up on Monday morning after this new rule went into effect didn’t have a face mask with them. I told them, “No mask, no ride.” They started yelling at me! But fortunately for me, this time I did not start the trip before everything settled so I knew I could cancel it which would leave them with no way to give me a bad rating or even complain about me. (As part of Uber’s new face mask rule, they have also said they are no longer going to count trip cancellations against drivers — so we’re free to cancel as much as we want now).

The next passenger that day was wearing a face mask but had it pulled down below his nose, which is basically the same as not wearing a mask at all. I don’t understand why people even bother with the mask in the first place if they’re not going to cover both their mouth and their nose, but this guy was one of those.

So, I asked him nicely if he wouldn’t mind pulling it up to cover his nose. He looked annoyed but complied to appease me. I asked him if he would feel safe riding around with me, cooped up in my car, if my mouth and nose weren’t both covered and he said, “No.” But of course, he left me a low rating.

That’s the thing about Uber rules … it’s up to the driver to enforce them, but drivers put themselves in jeopardy of getting bad ratings if they do try to enforce them. But this COVID-19 rule, I am definitely going to enforce that. I am not going to take unnecessary risks with my health or my life to drive for Uber.

And I’m no longer going to put myself in a position to get bad ratings from passengers who don’t want to do the right thing and wear masks — and wear them properly. From now on, whenever a passenger walks up to my car either without a mask or with one but one that’s not worn properly, I’m just going to cancel the trip and drive off. The minute you so much as ask these people to do the right thing, you know you’re going to get a bad rating. I’m only going to take people who don’t have to be asked.

As long as I haven’t tapped “Start Trip,” they can never rate me. It may anger them to no end, and they may be shouting and screaming at me as I drive off, but there’s no retribution they can take out against me.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Jamaican bobsled team pushes a Mini around town to keep Olympic dream alive

PETERBOROUGH, England — The Jamaican bobsleigh team is used to training without snow, but the coronavirus lockdown has seen its male athletes resort to pushing a car around the streets of an English city to stay in shape, with an eye on Olympic qualification.

Some residents of Peterborough have offered their help to Shanwayne Stephens and Nimroy Turgott as they push a Mini down the road, before realizing it is part of a new training regime to work around the closure of gyms in England.

“We had to come up with our own ways of replicating the sort of pushing we need to do. So that’s why we thought: why not go out and push the car?” Stephens, 29, told Reuters.

“We do get some funny looks. We’ve had people run over, thinking the car’s broken down, trying to help us bump-start the car. When we tell them we’re the Jamaica bobsleigh team, the direction is totally different, and they’re very excited.”

The couple said they had been inspired by the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics men’s bobsleigh team, immortalized in the 1993 film “Cool Runnings.”

But they said they aimed to qualify for the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 and then outperform the 1988 team, who did not officially finish the four-man bob competition after crashing.

“Those guys set a legacy, and a movie came out of it. For me personally, I want to surpass that level, and even go beyond that,” Turgott, 27, said.

Turgott, who normally lives in Jamaica, has been staying with Stephens since January, and the pair had always planned to do summer training in Britain, albeit in gyms rather than on roads.

“If you’re able to do the same sort of training without the same equipment, then you should be able to achieve more with the right equipment,” he said.

The pair are focused on qualifying for Beijing 2022. While the woman’s team competed for the first time in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the men’s team failed to qualify.

“The last Olympics, we missed it by one slot. And now we are using that experience as our motivation moving forward,” Turgott said.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Junkyard Gem: 1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special Sedan

If you lived in North America in 1967 and you wanted to show the neighbors you’d clawed your way to the peak of the success pyramid, only one car would do: Cadillac Fleetwood. Today’s Junkyard Gem is 4,685 pounds of General Motors luxury hardware, finally knocked off the road at age 53 by an unfortunate wreck and now residing in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.

The Cadillac brand endured some rough years during the 1970s and 1980s, but rode high during the 1960s. The Fleetwood Sixty Special Sedan started at $6,423 in 1967, or just over $50,000 when figured using inflation-adjusted 2020 dollars. A Mercedes-Benz 250SE sedan set you back $6,385 that year, but it weighed barely half as much and packed just 148 horses against the Cad’s 340. Really, you had to get a genuine Rolls-Royce to out-swank the Fleetwood-driving Joneses back then (the Lincoln Continental and Imperial didn’t have quite the snob appeal at that time), and the Roller cost more than several Fleetwoods combined.

This car has been around during its long life. On the windshield, we see 1980 and 1981 parking stickers from the Keeneland Club in Kentucky. This car was already 13 years old by that time, but still very classy.

At some point, the car must have migrated to California. Here’s a U.C. Berkeley sticker.

This ancient In-N-Out sticker comes from the Southern California-only era of the famous hamburger chain.

Sometimes it’s tough to determine the reasons that an old car ended up in a place like this, but that’s not a problem here. Let’s hope the car’s occupants had their belts on (lap belts only in 1967, but still better than nothing), because these old Detroit land yachts didn’t have much in the way of energy-absorbing crumple zones.

The paint and interior are quite rough, so this car depreciated from being worth perhaps a couple of grand to scrap value in an instant. 

Cruise control was a very rare option in 1967, and this car has it.

The famous Fleetwood triple-tone horns were still there when I got to this car.

Under the hood, 429 cubic inches (7.0 liters) of super-smooth Cadillac pushrod V8. This engine grew to 472 and then 500 cubic inches during the following few years.

The paint shows some great patina.

Did I buy the horns? Of course I bought the horns — I always bring my trusty lightweight junkyard toolbox when I head out to shoot some Junkyard Gems.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Uber launches $50-per-hour booking option in some U.S. cities

Uber will offer rides by the hour in some U.S. cities, a feature aimed at helping Americans with essential trips during the coronavirus pandemic. The option, which is already available in a handful of cities in Australia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, will cost $50 per hour. Fares for regular Uber rides are generally based on the level of demand and the trip distance.

Uber said it decided to expand the hourly feature to the U.S. after riders requested an option for extended trips during the pandemic to avoid exposure to different drivers and vehicles when taking multiple trips in a confined time period. The company said it expected the option to be used for trips to grocery stores, pharmacies and doctors appointments, but would monitor use going forward.

Hourly bookings will be available in Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Orlando, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Tacoma and Seattle beginning June 2, with expansions planned in the following weeks.

Ride-hailing trips, which generate the bulk of Uber’s revenue, dropped 80% globally in April, but the company earlier this month said demand was slowly recovering.

Since May 18, Uber requires riders and drivers around the world to wear face coverings or masks and allows both parties to cancel trips and report users who do not comply with the measure. Repeated failure to comply can lead to account deactivation for both riders and drivers.

Source: AutoBlog.com