Baby comes back
It wasn't quite a prodigal son kind of deal because it didn't leave of its own volition.
But imagine how stunned Alan Poster was when authorities notified him in January that they'd recovered his stolen Corvette-37 years after it was ripped off from a parking garage in New York City. A couple of months ago he unveiled his fully restored 1968 'vette in Carlisle, Pa., during ``Corvettes at Carlisle,'' one of the nation's premiere Corvette shows.
His is a story of great heartache-one with which any gearhead can empathize. As a 26-year-old, Mr. Poster had indulged himself by buying a brand new blue 'vette for six grand. Three months later, in January 1969, it was stolen from a Manhattan garage. Unable to afford theft insurance, he lost the car and his $6,000-and never imagined he'd ever see his baby again.
But the car was returned with the help of the California Highway Patrol, the Customs Service and the New York Police Department. Mr. Poster called it ``definitely a miracle because, in speaking to the police, the odds of them finding me were a million to one.''
His 'vette is now worth anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000, according to a Florida classic Corvette dealer. Mr. Poster said he plans to use his now famous car to promote worthy causes.
Maybe he can tour with McGruff the Crime Dog.
This, that 'n' other stuff
Hey, crabby-Mascots come in all shapes, sizes, flavors and creature forms. Group Michelin's ``Bibendum'' is recognized the world over. Taiwanese tire maker Federal Corp. has been promoting its mascot ``Feddi,'' a cartoon character with a tire tread Mohawk-style hair cut.
So what's one more anthropomorphic type just trying to make it in this cold, cruel, humanistic world? American Honda Motor Co. Inc. is promoting on the Web its boxy 2007 Element with an animated crustacean dubbed ``Gil.'' He's described as a ``26-year-old'' crab (hey, we know a few of those) who ``lives in Malibu.'' Pretty pricey digs.
His catchphrase in TV commercials, video ads and his own YouTube.com promos is ``I pinch,'' and Honda is offering merchandise-including T-shirts, aprons and baby clothes-bearing that slogan.
He'd better watch it. If he doesn't make it in the shell-cracking world of advertising, he may become an hors d'oeuvre.
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And when the tires wear out-A government worker and grandfather from the Topeka, Kan., area who claimed the state's recent $15 million Powerball jackpot has been referring to his life ``BP'' (before Powerball) and ``AP'' (after Powerball.)
BP, he was worried about ``how I was going to come up with the money to repair the leaky pipes in my old house and put new tires on my vehicle.'' After choosing to take a lump-sum payment of $7.17 million instead of the entire amount over 29 years, the guy-who by state law can remain anonymous-walked away with a little more than $5 million after taxes.
And AP? He told the Topeka Capital-Journal his attitude is, ``Who needs new tires? I can just buy a new vehicle.''
All burned out
The tire smoke was as thick as three-bean chili and the rods were just as hot for the recent Cruise-N-Silsbee car parade and burnout contest in Silsbee, Texas.
Motorheads, NASCAR wannabes and just about anyone with a lead foot were given the green light to burn rubber legally-at 10 bucks a crack-and man did they. David Shifflett, a 19-year-old paper mill employee, hopped in his 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS with the engine he built with his dad, tromped on the gas and, with his arm nonchalantly hanging out the window, eventually got lost in a haze of smoke and shreds of rubber.
The rpms from the 520-horse powerplant skyrocketed while the car remained stationary, a hunk of rubber from the left rear tire torn off and dangling on Dave's arm, the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise reported. Five minutes after his burnout, smoke continued to seep from the roof's rusty holes as Dave drove off, an unused dust mask next to him on the passenger seat. ``It was all or nothing,'' he told the Enterprise. ``Either I'd pop the tires or they'd had to make me stop.''
Well, he was told to stop, but not before he trashed that left rear tire. And he didn't even win the burnout competition.
The victor, Jimmy Watts, driving a midnight blue and gray '84 Ford F-150 pickup, snagged a 3-foot trophy for his efforts to wear away the 15-inch Pro-Trac performance tires on the 450-horsepower beast.
``I'd pay $100 to do it,'' the pleased owner of J.W.'s Truck Stop was heard to say.
Maybe the Powerball winner mentioned above will throw in a new set of tires for Jimbo.
Cars? What cars?
Like yodeling, modeling takes skill. You've got to look good in a two-piece bathing suit or skimpy outfit and, well, we won't get into the other attributes needed.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has come in for its share of criticism in the past about models at its annual trade show in Las Vegas and their penchant for revealing attire (not tires). The association recently released a study by its Market Research Dept. staff that pointed out the ``compact-performance niche continues to evolve,'' with compact and sports car modifications, including wheel and tire packages, still right up there on the popularity charts.
One successful venue for this youth-oriented breed of compact-performance car enthusiast has been the traveling ``Hot Import Nights (HIN)'' extravaganzas in cities across the country. ``This show, once exclusively for import cars, has morphed into an automotive cornucopia with a variety of attractions,'' SEMA said. To that evolution, the trade group said HIN events seem to have changed to a format ``more indicative of a night club than a car show. Attendees were presented with a buffet of sights not necessarily dedicated to cars.''
That includes poker tables, break dance competitions, endless giveaways, clothing displays ``and loads of attitude.'' Throw in live music and ambient lighting, SEMA stated, ``and you'll start to understand how difficult some find it to retain the attention of showgoers.'' (Sounds a lot like the SEMA Show, doesn't it?)
Another change, SEMA continued, has been the ``increasing swell of models. Most automotive shows feature token spokesmodels, but youth-driven markets encourage all types of attractive presenters to seduce attendees. From the standard product models to gyrating dancers, this scene seems to harbor more skimpy outfits and signing sessions than any other.''
SEMA kind of took Modified Magazine to task for its sponsorship of ``Modified Lounge,'' describing it as ``a centralized spectacle dedicated to displaying the wares of upcoming and established models.
``At some points visitors might wonder if the cars have been downgraded to secondary attractions, struggling with models, go-go competitions, bikini contests, fashion shows and more.''
Eye candy apparently comes in various horsepower configurations.
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk
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