The Good Oil: Hot wheels sizzle at SEMA

Ford Mustang. Photo / Photo / Supplied
Ford Mustang. Photo / Photo / Supplied

Hot wheels sizzle at SEMA

The annual Speciality Equipment Market Association's (SEMA) show in Las Vegas is the premier place to premiere the wildest and wickedest modified cars and auto products ... so it's a natural to have its own "what's hot" awards programme.

This year's hottest are the Ford Mustang and Scion FR-S, a version of the Toyota 86, while the Ford F-Series won Hottest Truck and the Jeep Wrangler was named the Hottest 4x4-SUV. Those last two just seem to keep on winning.

The more than 2000 companies at this year's show each cast votes. So the many new-vehicle manufacturers present probably voted for their own products, which ranged from production-likely cars including the beastly Ford Mustang Cobra Jet to Scion's dressed-for-action Carbon Stealth FR-S.

World's toughest towbar

No, it's not a spoof of a Top Gear TV show caravan-racing clip; a group of Americans really has broken the world's land speed record for a vehicle towing a trailer, as they're called in the USA.

They used a GMC 2500 HD diesel pickup with more than 1000hp (746kW) and a two-stage nitrous setup. The caravan required tweaking, including swapping the standard wheels and tyres for high performance parts.

They managed 141.998mph (228km/h) at the El Mirage dry lake in California's Mojave Desert, just beating the previous the 139.11mph mark.

Name proves to be a bit of a growler

Ford's Kuga SUV has been deservedly popular in many countries, but maybe not so much in Croatia and Serbia where the name translates as Black Plague.

Hairy-chested motors get their own hit parade

A website, AskMen.com, that keeps tabs on such things, has compiled a list of the 10 most "manly" cars of all time.

1 Shelby Cobra: "It wasn't built to look good, but it did. It wasn't built to overwhelm drivers, but it did. It wasn't built to become part of automotive history, but it did."
2 Dodge Viper: "Wholly a man's car since ... 1992 model."

3 Hummer H1: "This is no girlie-man's car."

4 Ferrari GTO: "The manly V12 dominated the track and has become a legend."

5 Chevrolet Corvette: "Some see a Stingray and think, 'phallic symbol on four wheels'."

6 Lamborghini Countach: "You're just the matador with a fine line of uncertain control."

7 Doge Ram pickup (1994 on): "On the basis on manliness they were light years ahead."

8 Cadillac Eldorado (1960s): "A sophisticated car for younger males."

9 Bugatti Veyron: "The look of an assassin."

10 Toyota FJ Land Cruiser (1970s): "Rugged as a Jeep CJ but more reliable."

Escalade to ditch flashy bling for a more discreet look

Cadillac plans to mute the chrome and in-your-face design when it rolls out the fourth-generation Escalade SUV in a year or so.

General Motors' priciest SUV has carved a highly profitable niche as a flamboyant style statement. However, the next Escalade will enter a far different market than its predecessor did in 2006 and will be "much less ostentatious", says GM boss Mark Reuss.

Apparently, the "new luxury" is more substantive, efficient and less showy. However, Reuss asserted the SUV's new design "is not feminine". Whew.

We are the world

*Some Nepalese believe that if a cobra-bite victim bites the snake right back, to its death, the venom is rendered harmless. One farmer so bitten told the BBC that he indeed went about his business after fatally biting his attacker ... but admitted that his family convinced him the custom may be ridiculous and hauled him to a hospital.

*Officials of a religious festival in Nanchang, China, have ordered a proliferating horde of beggars to be locked in small cages. They were free to leave, but then had to stay away permanently. Most chose to stay since they earned more in festival cages than they would have on the street, reported the Daily Mail.

*Tucker, an 8-year-old black labrador-mix, is the only dog in the world trained to detect the faint whiff of specks of whale faeces in the ocean, from up to 2km away. One of his trainers explained that the dog's ability is accurate but directional signals are often subtle, such as by a twitch of the ear. Tucker assists scientists studying whale health.

- NZ Herald

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