The Most Famous Tractor In The World. Well, maybe.

Hoyt Clagwell You start it up, and pyrotechnics go off that would shame any fireworks display.  Point to one of its wheels, and it falls off.  Point to a second wheel, and it falls off too.  So does the steering wheel.  Grab the wiring harness and the gauges fall out, saying you’re flying at 3,000 feet.  Whatever you do, don’t call it any names or it might chase you around the barnyard.

This is a typical day in the life of a Hoyt Clagwell tractor. Continue reading

The Gumball Rally (1976), a review:

httpswww.movieposter.com MPW-45256Not as awesome as the Japanese movie poster, but it’s still good.

The Gumball Rally is a secret cross-continental race where by invitation only can men and women from all walks of life –teachers, housewifes, aristocrats, daredevils, etc.- running whatever vehicle they’ve chosen try to get from New York to Los Angeles first, perhaps even beating the previous year’s record time. While the race is spearheaded by candy company man Michael Bannon (Michael Sarrazin) -which explains the ‘Gumball’ name- and rich rival Steve Smith (Tim McIntire), it’s these two that would furiously contest getting there first with their respective copilots, as well as be the target for Lieutenant Roscoe (Normann Burton), who will be working with different law enforcement agencies to try yet again to stop the Gumball Rally. Continue reading

The Cars From That ‘70s Show

This post was originally published on CarLustBlog.com on June 3, 2015. It’s been tweaked a bit, but otherwise it’s all the same.

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That ‘70s Show was not only gut-busting entertainment, it was a learning experience, even if it had a lousy final season and continuity mistakes big enough to drive a Vista Cruiser through. It gave a window to how life was in mid-to-late 1970s North America. What we now consider kitschy-cool was actually considered lame back then, not everyone liked ABBA (or Styx for that matter), and being in the throes of adolescence sucked no matter what decade it is. Am I right?

If these cars could talk… most of them would have trouble remembering what went down. Continue reading

The Cars of Top Gear USA

With the advent of a U.S.-market spin-off reboot, creatively (sarcasm) called Top Gear America -featuring hosts of all of the Americas, provided that they come from just the U.S.- I decided to revisit its predecessor, Top Gear USA.

wikipedia Top_Gear_US_title

Top Gear USA was the inevitable North-American spin-off of the Top Gear franchise. After all, there have been other spin-offs for Australia, Russia, and South Korea. The three hosts were comedian Adam Ferrara, car-guy Rutledge Wood and racecar driver Tanner Faust. Initially following the same format of the franchise with a studio, test track, Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, The Stig, etc., the show later on focused solely on challenges, with whoever winning said challenges usually getting to test the cream of the crop of the car world… most likely in another challenge.

Initially the show was subpar. Many complained that the roles of hosts were miscast. I didn’t look at the show with kind eyes, as it felt unoriginal in the sense that they kept ripping off every single challenge from the original Top Gear. It also got really tiresome having to see Tanner win challenges so often, because racecar driver. Thankfully, like the chemistry between the trio, the show got gradually better, but I wasn’t going to shed tears if it was cancelled. I am surprised that it lasted 6 seasons. BTW, if you ask why I watched the show even though I didn’t love it, well, we’ve all done it, right? Overall, I found the series passable. Besides, the episodes go quickly.

The cars featured in this article are, in my opinion, those that best represent the show -as well as a few personal favorites- but are just some of the many more that were featured in the show. If you have a favorite machine that wasn’t included, go ahead and mention it in the comments section at the end of the post.

Continue reading

The Cars and Bikes of the Ah! My Goddess Manga

2omg1_00 opening pic crop

Ah! My Goddess (distributed in the North American continent as Oh My Goddess! by Dark Horse Comics) tells the adventures of university engineering student and gearhead Keiichi Morisato and Belldandy, the goddess who Keiichi accidentally called in a ‘Goddess Help Line’(they’re more like genies with divine titles, as if they’ve used ‘em under license from The Big Guy himself). Stuck with each other, the duo will face whatever otherworldly challenges friends, family and foes will bring, both here on earth and beyond. Created by the industry’s resident gearhead Kosuke Fujishima, this rated-teen-and-older franchise has been a key pillar in legit manga (Japanese graphic novel) and anime (Japanese animation) for the North American market before the genre’s latest wave of popularity a couple of years later, as well as being a gem in Japan, with its steady run producing 308+ chapters compiled to produce a very healthy 48 volumes -like Initial D- from 1988 to 2014. Even the author is dumbfounded at its longevity.

You may have noticed that the opening title for this post only mentions the manga, not the anime. I did that on purpose. I’m able to squeeze reading a couple of manga pages over watching anime episodes. There are far more stories in the manga. And probably most importantly, there are a TON of machines I want to feature, so I need all the space I can get.

It’s actually quite refreshing to read a manga without all the stereotypical behavior and characters that I’ve been noticing throughout the years in multiple titles. Well, most of them anyway. Because of the manga’s steady run-time, you’ll notice little details that are wonderfully stuck in their times: from LA Gear hi-top sneakers to Laserdisc, though I must say that it carries the story well through the years without the reader noticing. Like many long-running titles, newer trends sneak up as well, including cars. Speaking of which…

Behind the slice-of-life/action-adventure/comedy-romance/techy-supernatural/fantasy backdrop is one that will resonate with this website: gearhead culture. It’s the reason why I became interested in this franchise in the first place. The love for machines is so important that there are entire storylines dedicated to the bond between man (and goddess) and machine, whether it’s a Honda minibike or a rocket-punch-slinging robot. The author and co. went to great lengths making machines as accurate as possible (even background vehicles), as well as the history, terminology and romance on some. Even bicycles, cameras and watches get romanticized. The amount of detail poring through is enough to make me consider it as one of the greatest gearhead-driven Japanese franchises ever, and I’ll even go as far as saying that it bests other car-and-bike-based series, like Fujishima’s other motoring project, éX-Driver. Besides, any series that shows a character wearing a shirt saying ‘Suzuki Motor Co. DOT-3’ can’t be that bad, right? Continue reading