The Ruffled Crow

Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things

Tag Archives: cars

What On Earth?

This entirely factual documentary comes via the National Film Board of Canada.

This animated short proposes what many earthlings have long feared — that the automobile has inherited the planet. When life on Earth is portrayed as one long, unending conga-line of cars, a crew of extra-terrestrial visitors understandably assume they are the dominant race. While humans, on the other hand, are merely parasites.

Story and animation by Les Drew and Kaj Pindal.

The Corvair Years

I grew up riding in Corvairs, including a Greenbriar van. That’s all my parents drove for years. By the time I was buying my own cars they were getting hard to find and even harder to find parts for.

1962 Monza

My father did all the work on the cars with my occasional, and somewhat clueless, help. Somewhere there is a picture stashed away of me (stashed away 1970’s deep, if you get my drift…), bent over a pan of gasoline washing parts, surrounded by the rest of a Monza engine. (could’ve been the van’s engine though, that one was rebuilt a few times)

A first gen parked at the mechanic's shop down the block just last week. Nice condition too!

The novelties and quirks were half the enjoyment of the cars; the push-button or paddle gear selector on the dashboard, the big steering wheel, the unbroken chrome flashing all the way around the belt-line of the car, two carburetors, dropping the engine to replace the plugs… (unsure on which one, or more, it was, but the opposing 6-cylinder engine didn’t leave alotta room to work)

Our 65 was burgundy

I really liked the 2nd generation styling, we only had one of those, a ’65 (I think it was a Corsa), and I thought it kind of hearkened to the sharp-ended Corvette Stingrays but didn’t get you pulled over all the time. I got to drive that one and while it wasn’t the quickest whip in the neighborhood, it was pretty nimble.

On top of it all this thing had 4 single-barrel carbs! How cool is that?! I was familiar with the dual-carbs, but this was a whole new level. My Dad was already a master at balancing two carbs without the aid of tubes or wires and 2 more didn’t faze him.

The real workhorse over the years, though, was the Greenbriar panel van. No seats in the back, an astro-turfed plywood pallet covered the middle pit between the rear-mounted engine and the front axle some of the time.

Ours was a panel van so no side windows.

Bare-walled metal with the engine humped over the rear axle, it was loud in the back of that thing. Preferable, however, to being in the front seat. I never had any desire to drive it, in fact, it kind of scared me; you either bounced around in a deafening metal box dodging a sliding tool box in back, or placed your feet at about the spot a grill would be on any self-respecting car with a nose on it. The only advantage to driving it would’ve been access to the brake pedal. With all due respect to Sacred Bull’s driving, back then I instinctively stomped around trying to find one on the passenger’s side alot.

That red and white Greenbriar rattled and gear-ground it’s way down the road – dependably – for many years. My Dad probably knew every bolt on that thing, engine innerds included, and knew how to keep it’s heart blatting.

The last Corvair was made in 1969 and, as you can imagine, they become rarer as time speeds on. I hadn’t seen one on the hoof for a year or more when Aunt Bee brought home some pictures of a nice looking gen 1 parked at the repair shop next door. Prices online surpass the eldo’s worth quickly with well maintained cars selling in 5-figures.

But I can dream. And in the meantime, here’s a 1960 advert The Corvair in Action (with h/t to Patrick):

For more Corvair info and history

In Praise of the Car Seat Warmer

This is my second winter having a car seat warmer and I’m quite enjoying it. Many a frigid morning has been improved by the toasting of my skinny ass as I roll in to work.

"I loves dis new buts warmer dey instaled."

Everyone enjoys a hot ass, regardless of species - or entendre...

Robert Ballard at GM invented the electric car seat warmer in 1951 and got a patent for it in 1955. (Patent no. 2,698,893 to be precise) I’d venture that it’s one of the most un-repaired items on a vehicle, second only to recharging the AC. (The Seville was the only car I’ve ever owned whose AC worked. It smelled funny, however, so I’m not sure that counts as “working”)

The seat heaters on the Eldo are particularly hot, even on low, but a side benefit would be the use as a bun warmer – in the non-euphemistic sense, that is.

Drop the bagged bagel on the passenger seat, flip the switch to high, and it’s soft and warm by the time you pull into work. The cream cheese easily spreadable too. Those fresh-baked Krispie Kremes will still be exuding the odoriferous equivalent of a siren song when you get them to your desk. Pot luck? Offer to bring the rolls; A bag of heat-n-serve on the seat and you’re set on arrival. Need a road-trip snack? Slap a piece of Velveeta between a couple pieces of toast and in 10 miles you have a melted cheese sandwich!

Let’s call it “Warm-on-the-Way” Technology ™. Wrap everything up in a small blanket or heavy towel to collect and retain the heat (and keep any leaks off the leather) and you are Good to Go.

Early research into "Warm-on-the-Way" (tm) technology

If this catches on expect a cookbook.

Just imagine the day; you’re on the road to the coast with the family and the wife leans forward from the back seat and says, “Do I smell cookies?”

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