One lucky pucker
Picture it: Valentine's Day in Chi-town. Eight pairs of lips and a shiny-new, bright-red 2005 Dodge Dakota.
Sounds like the makings of a bit for Saturday Night Live. But actually it was grueling...simply grueling. A contest held at the recent Chicago auto show involved the winner locking lips with said vehicle and-aren't there laws against this kind of thing?-literally making out with the truck for more than seven hours. (Would the stunt have been banned in Boston?)
The sore-lipped winner was 29-year-old Joseph Cervantez of Gurnee, Ill., a 1st Division U.S. Marine who returned last October from his first tour of duty in Iraq. Talk about hazardous duty, the contest, which lasted seven hours and 43 minutes, pitted contestants in a kiss-off to show their love for the truck while raising money for the American Heart Association (AHA). The stunt, in recognition of February being ``American Heart Month,'' hauled in $8,000-that's almost a grand for each contest hour-donated to the AHA by DaimlerChrysler Group, maker of the drooled-upon Dodge.
Our Semper Fi Marine-who credited his rigorous military training and discipline for his victory-said he ``just puckered up and then kept on kissing as long as I could. I never thought I'd spend Valentine's Day kissing a truck but after kissing for that long, I'm now really looking forward to spending quality time with my new Dodge Dakota.''
Better that than sidling up and planting a wet one on a dusty Humvee in the desert.
Dateless on St. V's Day?
Speaking of the recently departed Valentine's Day...so (sniff, sniff) you didn't have a special someone to take out for cocktails and a romantic dinner? Rather than wallowing in self-pity, wondering how you'd survive the evening alone, you should have taken to the road-with a high-stylized ride.
That's the advice of editors at Edmunds.com Inc., publisher of pricing guides for new and used vehicles. They came up with some recommendations for the perfect balm to soothe that lonely feeling: Hop into one of their Top 10 vehicles they claim are so entertaining you'd forget all about the empty seat next to you.
Their picks ran the gamut from obvious choices- a Corvette or Mercedes SL65-to oddball picks like the Oscar Meyer ``Wienermobile'' (always a big date pleaser) and Grave Digger monster truck. ``Nobody likes to be stuck in traffic, especially if you're riding solo on Valentine's Day,'' said one editor who chose the enormous pickup. ``In Grave Digger you can just drive over the traffic,'' he kidded, ``crushing all those lovey-dovey, hand-holding couples in the process.''
While you still might have ended up driving alone, one of the following on the Edmunds.com list just might have been flashy enough to snare you a last-minute date:
1. Chevrolet Corvette
2. Dodge Ram SRT-10
3. Ferrari F430
4. Ford Mustang convertible
5. Lotus Elise
6. Mazda Miata
7. Mazda RX-8
8. Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG
9. Mini Cooper convertible
10. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Edmunds.com, founded in 1966, is based in Santa Monica, Calif., and has a satellite office near Detroit.
(Disclaimer: While the editors at Tire Business don't have any particular preference for or offer any endorsement of any of the above vehicles, we admit any of them would have beaten the heck out of a plain ol' box of chocolates for Valentine's Day.)
Move over, Ripley's
A piece about safety programs published in a recent issue of Successful Promotions magazine provided what it called some ``oddities of actuality.''
* La Paz, Bolivia-about 12,000 feet above sea level-is nearly a fireproof city. At that altitude, the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere barely supports fire. Thus, the fire engines ordered out of civic pride gather dust in the city's firehouses, the mag said.
* The only known fatality caused by a falling meteorite was a dog hit in Egypt in 1922.
* More people die playing golf than any other sport. Heart attacks and strokes, of course, are the leading causes of links-induced death (not to mention double bogeys).
* Nearly 1,000 people per year die as a direct result of volcanic activity.
* Apparently, people who work nights are nearly twice as likely to have an accident on the job than if they worked days.
* There's a town in Maryland called ``Accident'' which straddles a major state highway linking western Maryland with the rest of the state. Posted on the approach to town is a road sign that doubles as a warning and is always true, no matter the traffic conditions. It says, ``Accident Ahead.''
* The world's safest train is in Wuppertal, Germany. The monorail has carried more than 1.3 million passengers since 1901 without a serious accident.
* History tells us that after struggling actor John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln he leaped to the stage from the presidential box and broke his leg. According to some first-hand accounts, the assassin tripped over an American flag.
Was there an insurance salesman in the house?
This, that & other stuff
Chain saw massacre-The latest off-the-wall creation of German cult comic strip artist Rotger Feldmann is a motorcycle called the Dolmette.
It was on display late last year at ContiTech's Automechanika trade show booth in Frankfurt, Germany. The almost 13-feet-long dragster bike-powered by 24 chain saw engines spitting out 170 horsepower-is driven by 12 ContiTech power trans- mission belts at 15,000 rpm. The kicker: Each of the engines has to be started separately.
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Out of this world promo-A Volvo Cars of North America Inc. contest promotion unveiled during a Feb. 6 Super Bowl commercial promises the winner a trip to outer space. The plug was for the XC90, the car maker's first vehicle to have a V-8. It goes on sale in the second quarter.
As for the contest, the space flight is expected to cost Volvo $200,000. It's being offered through Virgin Group, which books the flights and already has more than 14,000 people on its waiting list. Of course, a one-way ticket is a lot cheaper.
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Welcome to the asylum-We salute our Akron-based sister publication Rubber & Plastics News, which recently launched a column (ala Marketplace) to provide a home for some of the wackier items that turn up in the news, especially in the tire and rubber industry.
They're calling it ``The Rubber Sheet''-a bouncy title, if we must say so.
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk