Gottlob Espenlaub - German Plane & Car Designer

Gottlob Espenlaub was a German aeronautical and automotive designer who started out designing kites and hang-gliders and went on to work for the Luftwaffe's secret rocket programs. After the war he turned his talents to designing and building streamlined cars like these beauties - 231239-1546276-thumbnail.jpg231239-1546279-thumbnail.jpg231239-1546282-thumbnail.jpg231239-1546286-thumbnail.jpg231239-1546292-thumbnail.jpg


Front-Wheel Drive Motorbike of 1935

Killinger & Freund
Lovely lines on this 1935 Killinger and Freund motrocyle eh? It's a streamlined version of the 600cc Megola front-wheel drive motorcycle - a prominent race-winner throughout the 1920s.

Has a three cylinder two-stroke engine built into the front wheel. It was a big improvement over the old Megola design. The weight of the engine was lower. With the front wheel it was 50 kg (110 lbs). Came with a two-speed transmission built as a differential transmission and used slope-meshed gears.

The motorbike was intended for civilian production but World War II intervened. Happily one prototype was discovered by the US Army in 1945 at a German military installation. 231239-1545822-thumbnail.jpg
U.S. soldier on K&F


Prototypes of Citroën 2CV Found in French Barn

CitroënTPV.jpgIt's 60 years since the launch of the iconic Citroën Deux Chevaux (two horsepower) I'm a bit off the pace on this. These TPV prototypes of the famous Citroën Deux Chevaux (2CV) were actually discovered fourteen years ago (1994) - 55 years after being hidden under bales of straw in the roof of a barn. They were stashed in 1939 at the Ferté-Vidame test circuit in Eure-et-Loir and the discovery was announced to the public by Jacques Wolgensinger (a former Citroën P.R. man) in "La 2CV, nous nous sommes tant aimés" ("The 2CV we love each other so much"). They were shown at the 1998 Paris Retromobile car show.

They had to be lifted out of the barn roof by crane. All three cars had little corrosion and were shod with their original tyres.

One has small hydraulic rams fitted to the front suspension arms, mounted along the chassis. Another has headlights! Well only one actually - that's all French law required at the time.
231239-1538764-thumbnail.jpg231239-1538766-thumbnail.jpg231239-1538768-thumbnail.jpg231239-1538770-thumbnail.jpg231239-1538772-thumbnail.jpgThey successfully tested the suspension of these early 2CVs by driving across a ploughed field with a basket of eggs sitting on the seat. The seats were made of canvas suspended from the roof with wires! 231239-1538789-thumbnail.jpgBTW 5 Million of the little buggers were produced - nowhere near the 21.5 Million Volkswagen Beetles. Wikipedia has a good page on the Citroën 2CV.


Hitler Sketches the "Strength Through Joy" Wagen

"Strength Through Joy Wagen"
This is supposedly a sketch done by Hitler for the first Volkswagen beetle - the so-called KdF-Wagen or "Strength through joy" wagen . Apparently done (on a napkin?) whilst he was sitting in a restaurant in Munich in 1932. Its said that Hitler gave his design to the head of Daimler-Benz, Jakob Werlin, and stressed its importance. "Take it with you and speak with people who understand more about it than I do. But don't forget it. I want to hear from you soon, about the technical details". Other reports have him giving the sketch to Dr Porsche. Here's another drawing of The People's Car attributed to Hitler. Notice the surfboard on the roof? He was really a visionary wasn't he? Although most of my Seventies surfer buddies and I drove Kombis.231239-1524274-thumbnail.jpg Porsche went on to produce a few prototypes, amongst them the VW30 - so called I guess because 30 were made and tested on the autobahn. Hitler reportedly went into one of his rages on seeing the car for the first time and said "Dummkopf - you've forgotten the rear window!...go back and do it again!"231239-1524312-thumbnail.jpg
Vas ist das?
Ya ya...dat's better
Blitzkrieg begins


Concept Cars Designed by Students

"Pure" Concept Car

Concept Car

designs by high school students in the Nissan/Sweat Equity Enterprises project with comments by the teacher, Bryan Thompson, a Nissan designer. At left, the winning concept, the Pure. More Student Auto Designs from The New York Times.

"Goblin" concept car
GOBLIN - This three-wheel truck is designed for city deliveries. The rear wheels spread out when the truck is loaded to make it more stable. Concept Cars Designed by Students


The Boy Who Loved Hearses

John Keel's passion was cars; and the cars he loved above all others were hearses. He adored them. He studied them. He was enamored with the remarkable craftsmanship that went into making one of these oft-neglected pieces of automotive Americana. And by the time John was fifteen he was considered by many members of The Professional Car Society (a group dedicated to the restoration and preservation of vintage hearses) to be North America's greatest expert on hearses. By age sixteen John had memorized the entire catalog of every U.S.-made hearse ever built and had begun working on a comprehensive history of the American hearse. By the age of eighteen John Keel was dead, the cause of his death still a mystery.

See the Trailer and the first 10 mins of this great short film here - The Boy Who Loved Hearses


Dig Your New Holden

Holden VE SSV
Sometime yesterday some lucky person became the proud owner of a VOLVO XC90 that was buried somewhere in the world. It was part of a VOLVO promotion with the Pirates of the Caribbean film - you know, the one with Johnny Depp.

It's not the first time this stunt has been pulled. The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma buried a brand spanking new Plymouth Belvedere in a time capsule outside the County Courthouse 49 years ago. It was covered in Cosmolene, a metal preservative, then wrapped in plastic and placed in a concrete and steel box. It's due to be opened next August and the car (or what remains of it) will go to the person (or his or her heirs) who most closely predicted the population of Tulsa in 2007. The car comes with 10 gallons of gasoline and 5 quarts of oil in the trunk. The glove box also has a packet of 50 year old fags, some tranquillisers and other junk that supposedly would be found in a typical ladies purse of 1957.

And I don't know whether we can count this but in the Seventies an artists collective called Ant Farm buried 10 Cadillacs on a farm outside of Amarillo, Texas. Half-buried, that is - their befinned backends were sticking out. They had to dig them up and move them in 1997 but they're still standing at Cadillac Ranch

"In May 1974 we went to Amarillo and began buying Cadillacs. It was a white-trash dream come true, buying and driving old Cadillacs on the windswept plains of the Texas Panhandle. In our search we visited every used-car lot in Amarillo and most of the junkyards. We bought a '59 Coupe de Ville at a junkyard for $100 because "it had no papers," as the guy said. "Don't make a shit to us," we said, "if you'll deliver it." He did. We bought a creampuff '62 Sedan de Ville from Guy Mullins Motors. It was a pastel yellow four-door hardtop and it ran so well that it was painful to bury. We found a silver '49 fastback but the guy was asking $700 for a it, a price we considered exhorbitant (the cars averaged $200 a piece). Stanley suggested we buy it and smash up the front end with sledgehammers in front of the proud previous owner. So we did in fact smash it, with the cameras rolling as the bewildered owner winced in agony. Our search for Cadillacs took us into people's backyards and private junkyards. At the end of two weeks we had the necessary ten cars and a spare."

I like this idea - burying gas-guzzlers. There's sompething symbolic about it. Particularly if they're left to rot back to their carbon components.

So I propose this. I reckon the Herald should buy one of the new Commodores - maybe the brutal SSV-Series V8 ("You don't just drive it - you become it") and bury the bastard somewhere in suburban Sydney. And then we have a competition on RADAR to find it. Oh yeah - they've got to chuck in 100 litres of juice, too. And in the glovebox will be a signed group nudie photo of Dominic Knight, Sian, fingers, Blondie, Vic, Garry, Chesty, Mountjoy and all the gang.

Whadya reckon?


Try doing the Tour de France on this!

5789_260606115037.jpg World's smallest and lightest foldable bicycle

"Fold-up bikes are certainly not new though none to date have deserved the moniker “portable”. Most use the same heavy chain sets and bulky 16 to 20 inch wheels and traditional materials and are at best luggable. The A-Bike is a folding pushbike that is claimed to be small enough so that you can take it on public transport with a no-bicycles policy. The US$300 A-bike utilises automotive grade, engineering polymers for its structural components, saddle and handlebars and has a level of stiffness, fatigue and impact resistance comparable with aero-grade aluminium. By using these new materials, the A-bike’s weight has been reduced to just 5.5 kg (12 lbs), which is manageable for even slightly-built individuals. Whatsmore, it can be folded inside 10 seconds into a compact 26” x 12” x 6” (66 × 30 x 15 cm) package and has pneumatic tyres, so riding it will not dislodge the fillings in your teeth. In our opinion, the A-Bike looks to be the first viable foldable bike for those who wish to mix modes of transport and we see it as invaluable for yachts and motorhomes and campers where a simple vehicle for short-distances is a boon but storage space is limited." more at gizmag.co.uk - Pretty cool eh? Plenty of other cool wheels at this great site. Including this 3-wheeled concept from Australia's Monash University. It has an electric motor in the rear wheel.231239-375898-thumbnail.jpg


WWII tanks unearthed and driven away

line_t3485.gifWhile looking up something or other on the net I came across this fascinating story on two World War II era Soviet tanks that were recovered from a Latvian bog seven years ago -

In August 1999 at the Kurland battlefield, Latvia, two Soviet tanks: a T-34/85 and a IS-2 of the 19th Tank Corps were extracted from the bog by a group of enthusiasts after being entombed for fifty five years. Incredible.

They'd sunk in the marsh without crews and any damage while attempting to break through the German defense lines.

The tanks were in good condition, particularly the T-34/85. After changing the engine-oil and some starter parts and refueling, the enthusiasts were able to start the engines and drive the tanks.

Presumably the 1944 Russian tankmen didn't notice the danger as the bog surface was covered with a thick layer of snow at the time. The tanks entered the bog at high speed, lost the ability to maneuver and quickly sank. Presumably after the crews had bailed out.

The 19th corps lost 46 tanks in that fight - some of them sinking in the bog.

The tanks were very well preserved, especially the T-34. Their battalion numbers, painted in white, were clearly visible: A-412 (T-34) and 304 (IS-2). The tanks were almost fully armed and equipped with spare parts and instruments sets. Both tanks were lying upside down in the bog.

The amazing thing is that the mixture of motor oil and leaked diesel fuel had perfectly preserved the tanks and their working parts. And the ammunition, after cleaning, was able to be fired - several bursts of machine-gun fire were made using ammunition taken from the same tanks.

The T-34 tank was designed and built in the Kharkiv Tractor Factory in the Ukraine and the first T-34 tank was tested by successfully driving it 1,000 miles from Kharkiv to Moscow and back. The great value of the T34 was its simple design which made it easy to manufacture and easy to repair. The T34 was also reasonably light while its water-cooled V12 diesel engine made an engine-fire rare and increased the distance at which it could operate. The speed of the T34 was also a major advantage over German tanks. The average top speed of German tanks was 25 mph while the T34 had a top speed of 32 mph. Its sloped armour also gave the T34 a very good defence against German shells. And its wide track made it suitable for rough ground. But not for bogs.

The Russians could afford to lose many T34’s in battle as their factory system allowed for the building of thousands of them. Whereas German factories were bombed by the Allies, the T34 factories based deep in the Ukraine, were relatively free from German bombing.

The T34 was later equipped with an 85 mm gun to allow it to compete with the Tiger tanks on the eastern front. Later versions were also given better armour. The T34/85 had a flatter turret, making a smaller target – an innovation that was copied in many tanks after the war.

After the Second World War the T-34 was widely exported and was still fighting in Africa in the 1980s. Then in the 1990s it saw action again in Europe during the Yugoslavian civil war - as a fifty year old design.

I want one. I can just see me parking it in the Paris streets where I live. No worries.

You can read about the biggest tank battle of World War II involving 1500 Soviet and German tanks at Kursk, here at the history learning site


Prepare for take-off

0 - 60 in what?
Well I'll be buggered! A street-legal jet-powered Beetle. Is this for real, you reckon? Found it Here at makezine.com

"Ron writes - "This is a my street-legal jet car on full afterburner. The car has two engines: the production gasoline engine in the front driving the front wheels and the jet engine in the back. The idea is that you drive around legally on the gasoline engine and when you want to have some fun, you spin up the jet and get on the burner (you can start the jet while driving along on the gasoline engine). The car was built because I wanted the wildest street-legal ride possible. "231239-286960-thumbnail.jpg
Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

How would you like to be behind this sucker when the afterburner kicks in?231239-287006-thumbnail.jpg
The donk
Gotta light?