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Screaming Bloody Murder

This article was inspired by a youtube video I watched on my phone in bed at 5am this morning. Unlike most guys who may start their day in an entirely different way, I usually spend an hour or two watching car clips and videos. Now, I’ve always been into evil cars, way before the ‘murdered out’ look took hold, and by ‘took hold’, I mean all the celebs and the whole car wrapping deal.

Because of the ‘murdered out’ tag and fad, it seems I’m among a minority who actually understand what a true ‘murdered out’ car is. There are certain esoteric rules that have to be adhered to if a car is to be accepted into the’murdered out’ gang. First off, if your name is David Beckham or Justin – I can’t even get a speeding ticket in a Lambo – Bieber, then kindly f**k off. If you are a fan and think Beckham’s Porcshe or Bieber’s Caddy are ‘murdered out’, then I implore you to do the same.

Never mind the Porsche, just take a look at the car above – it’s a Cadillac CTS-V. It’s Cadillac’s fast and expensive warrior sent to challenge zi German’s AMG and ///M badges. It’s supposed to be a shiny and luxurious car, a hi-tech machine that can be turned into a track car at a touch of a button. The Matte black wrap is hideous – it’s like handing James Bond a shovel and asking him to dig a grave for the last person he shot.

Before I waste your time by trying to explain what these esoteric rules include, please check out the video below.

Enjoy? I did, no matter how early it was, and despite what other manly activities take place at this time in the morning, I could’ve done the same over this car.

A ‘murdered out’ car can’t be forced; it can’t be a new car wrapped in black. It has to have presence, a character, as though it could start up on its own and take a slow and ominous cruise around town – think Christine on fire and taking herself back to Darnell’s DIY garage, think of other movies such as, The Car, Duel and even Jeeper’s Creepers (notice the Caddy’s horn in the vid?). In fact, now I’ve mentioned Stephen King, I’ve just remembered a short story of his, Mile 81, a tale featuring a mud-covered station wagon (which was strange because there hadn’t been any rain in the area for over a week) that veers into the Mile 81 rest area, ignoring the sign that says “closed, no services.” The driver’s door opens but nobody gets out. This is the kind of eerie presence a true ‘murdered out’ car should possess.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a short clip that will give you another accurate idea of what a real murder car is all about – it’ll definitely put a smile on your face.

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What Car Would You Choose To Take On The Cannonball Run?

Lamborghini Countach LP400S

The Cannonball Run 1980 Lamborghini Countach LP400S

Also known as the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, the 2813-mile NYC to L.A. Speed Race has inspired movies and books, stories Gargling Gas finds most appetising and inspirational. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know the score, if you haven’t, here’s a brief history and current record holders.

1915 Erwin "Cannon Ball" Baker and his Stutz Bearcat

1915 Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker and his Stutz Bearcat

Cannonball Run History

The race as we now know it is a mere celebration and the recognition of a guy called Erwin G. “Cannon Ball” Baker. Although he set his first coast to coast record in 1914 on an Indian motorcycle, a year later saw Baker drive a Stutz from L.A. to NYC in 11 days, 7 hours and fifteen minutes. In 1916, “Cannon Ball” piloted a Cadillac 8 Roadster in a staggering seven days, eleven hours and fifty-two minutes – despite the modern era Cannonball Run taking longer than a whole day on the road, it’s a sprint in comparison.

Google maps states that New York City to Los Angeles should take you around 45 hours of driving. The current record is a staggering 28 hours and 50 minutes. That’s an average of 98-mph!

So what does it take to get near that benchmark time? Many have tried, many have fallen, few have succeeded. And vitally, what car would you need to keep the average speed high, reliability issues nil, and remaining as inconspicuous as a Cannonballers’ personality dares?

Cannonball Route

The route starts at NYC’s Red Ball Garage on East 31st Street, crossing many state lines, finishing at the Portofino Inn at Redondo Beach, California. No real rules, only a gentlemen’s agreement that the vehicle entered had to be driven the entire route, i.e. no identical sister vehicles waiting on standby. If you were caught speeding and fined, the ticket was the driver’s responsibility and the time taken to receive the citation counted on top of the overall time.

The route has seen minor changes over the years, which has ultimately led to a few discussions and debates on times vs mileage. The calculators have come out a few times to establish if times were legit in claiming the record.

Brock Yates and Dan Gurney and the 1971 Record Ferrari 365 GTB 4

Brock Yates and Dan Gurney and the 1971 Record Ferrari 365 GTB 4

Cannonball Royalty

In 1971, automotive journalists, Brock Yates and F1/Le Mans winner, Dan Gurney set a real precedence when they managed to smash 40 hours in a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytona”. They took the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash AKA the Cannonball Run in 35 hours and 54 minutes.

As the originator of the Cannonball Run, Yates doesn’t acknowledge any new records due to his concern that “somebody was going to get killed”.

Richard Rawlings & Dennis Collins With The 1979 Winning Jaguar XJ-S

Richard Rawlings & Dennis Collins With The 1979 Winning Jaguar XJ-S

Although the 1979 record stood for some time, I couldn’t find much image-wise as far as the car and drivers were concerned. However, I did find a few of the car discovered by the pair who eventually beat the record (see pic below).

1979 entrants, Dave Heinz and Dave Yarborough shattered the old record with their Jaguar XJ-S. It was the last official Cannonball Rally and they set an amazing time of 32 hours and 51 minutes, at an average speed of 87 miles per hour (140 kph).

Richard Rawlings, Dennis Collins & the Record Ferrari F550

Richard Rawlings, Dennis Collins & Ferrari F550

Famed for their TV appearances in Discovery’s Fast N’ Loud programme, Richard Rawlings, owner of Gas Monkey Garage and his best friend, Dennis Collins, previously made a name for themselves when they broke the long-standing 1979 record in 2007 with a time of 31 hours and 59 minutes at an average speed of 87.6-mph.

The pair are also two-time winners of both the Bullrun and the Gumball Rally. The record car was a black Ferrari F550 with modified fuel cells to lower the amount of times needed to stop.

When you consider the modern technology and car used compared to the Jaguar XJ-S, although the Cannonball and Gumball veterans beat the record, it just highlighted the amazing achievement set 28 years earlier.

Alexander Roy

Alexander Roy

Taking technology to another level, Alexander Roy went to great lengths to minimise potential stoppages, including a “spotter” helicopter. No stranger to the Gumball and Bullrun rallies, Roy and his co-driver David Maher eventually beat the record in 2006. They managed 2800 miles in 31 hours and 4 minutes, at an average of 90.1-mph.

Richard Rawlings and Dennis Collins claimed, although Roy beat their previous record, he did not “stick to the route” of the original Cannonball Run. Roy counter-claimed that the route changed and varied slightly every year, and that the only rule was total A-B time. As the 31:04 was nearly an hour faster than the previous record, it was agreed it was also a sufficient margin to make up the 11-mile difference. 

Alexander Roy's BMW M5

Alexander Roy’s BMW M5

Alexander Roy published a book on his racing career, The Driver: My Dangerous Pursuit of Speed and Truth, a book I’m halfway through, a book keeping me from my much-need beauty sleep.

As you can see in the picture above, Roy likes the interior of his BMW M5 to look like a flight simulator. From GPS to police scanners, Roy uses everything, but rather than make a tedious list, watch the video below and hear about them from the man himself.

Ed Bolian and His Mercedes Benz CL55 AMG

Ed Bolian and His Mercedes Benz CL55 AMG

Alexander Roy’s record fell in 2013 to Lamborghini dealer, Ed Bolian. After four years of preparation, including the installation of a second 22-gallon fuel tank to his 115,000-mile Mercedes CL55 AMG, he ate up the 2,813 miles in 28 hours, 50 minutes and 26 seconds. This meant the spare tyre had to share the backseat with his spotter, Dan Huang. The extra fuel tank was also the reason Bolian chose the Mercedes, as the CL55 possessed the suspension to take the extra weight of fuel.

Like Roy, Bolian relied on laser jammers radar detectors and even a rear-light kill switch. Along with two GPS units, all important space and tech had to be considered for smartphone and tablet chargers. Throw in food, drink and bedpan, you start to understand just what is required in remaining in a car for over 24-hours.

Although many records were set before him, Bolian’s inspiration fell at the hands of the legend, none other than Edwin “Cannonball” Baker, the guy who started it all.

This seems like a good place to finish and ask you, the Reader, “what car would you choose to take on the Cannonball Run”?

VW-Phaeton-6-0-W12-4MOTION

VW-Phaeton-6-0-W12-4MOTION

Me?

I’d opt for one of my favourite sleepers, the VW Phaeton W16, complete with extra fuel cells, ABBA on shuffle to inspire a quicker journey to end the suffering, and water-proofed seats for the inevitable accidents.

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Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: The Sleeper Car

Ford Granada Sleeper ZZZ ZZZ

Ford Granada Sleeper ZZZ ZZZ

You may or may not have heard of the term “Sleeper Car” before – to some it probably sounds like a camper van vehicle or caravan – however, a Sleeper Car is the complete opposite of the meaning derived from the word “Sleeper”.

As you’ve most likely guessed from the title, this type of vehicle is a bog standard car hiding and possessing enormous amounts of power under its coat.

Example: How great would it be to embarrass a Porsche at the lights in an old Mitsubishi Galant? How is this done? Mitsubishi are primarily known for their EVO cars, the ultimate turbo tuning machines. Despite this, their Galant VR4 (pretty standard in appearance) comes with 276 bhp stock, so with some tuning and performance upgrades at a relatively low cost, they can be boosted to around 600+ bhp.

Mitsubishi Galant VR4

Mitsubishi Galant VR4

Depending on your budget, any car can be transformed into a Sleeper car. I recently watched an episode of Fast N’ Loud on Discovery where Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman took an old ’59 Rambler Wagon (pic below), treated and clear coated its weathered body for effect, but installed a massive 4.8L Chevrolet V8 with an Edelbrock Carburettor and MSD direct ignition and disk brakes. From the outside it looked like an old truck, but a blip of the gas and it could shift tectonic plates.

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One problem you face boosting horsepower is hiding the upgrades needed to cope with the extra grunt. The main two are exhausts and brake callipers. Unless you purchase black callipers, simply paint them before installation. Exhausts are pretty simple if you can get under the car – ensure they are out of sight but still manage to function properly. Sports exhausts usually offer different styles, either for sound or performance. Try and pick one that offers optimum flow as well as offering a good amount of muffle – a deep rumbling exhaust suggests upgrades.

If you have bottomless pit of money to throw at car, check this Sleeper Car out for scaring pretty much any other potential racer at the lights. This is essentially an F1 powered Alfa 164 Procar. It was built in cooperation with Brabham and possess the only Alfa Romeo V10 ever built. This disguised Alfa produces 605 bhp at 12,000 rpm! – not sure what the insurance premium would be on this one.

Alfa Sleeper F1 Car

Alfa Sleeper F1 Car

The perfect wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Alfa Sleeper Car

Alfa Sleeper Car

My favourite and perhaps the ultimate Sleeper is “Farm Truck” from the TV show Street Outlaws – check out the video below and witness the power that old truck can lay down.

If you are thinking about creating a Sleeper Car with a small budget, aim for a small and light turbo car, something you can add a cold air intake and bigger exhaust to, also one in which an ECU tweak is viable. These three options can add as much as 60-80 bhp to a small turbo car, putting you in the same arena as the bigger sporty saloons.

Trailer Park Boys SH!T Mobile Is Actually Immortal

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The majority of the vehicles making their way around the Canadian trailer park, “Sunny Vale”, in The Trailer Park Boys are Detroit originals, although some are the Canadian versions.

Easily my favourite and the car featured here at Gargling Gas is the “Shit Mobile”, one of the main characters, Ricky’s mode of transport and home.

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After a little research I realised the car had an off-screen story to it too – the 1975 Chrysler New Yorker was owned by the show’s creator, Mike Clattenberg, and after driving right through to the second season, his wife deemed it too ugly and wanted it gone from their driveway.

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In an interview with the loveable four-eyed, Bubbles, (Mike Smith) Auto Trader discovered there is more to the New Yorker than viewers may think.

When asked about Ricky’s “Shit Mobile”, Bubbles replied:

Yup. Big. Heavy. Powerful car. That was in mint condition when we first started and we had to break the car down. It took a long time to do with axes and sledgehammers. It was hard to dent it. There’s so much iron in the thing.

The actual Shit Mobile is so banged up, but it’ll still do a brake stand to this day. You can’t kill the engine in that car. It always fires up every time someone turns the car on. The thing is still working.

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Just goes to show that the phrase “They don’t make them like they used to” really does apply to the automobile.

Gargling Gas is all about cars and their personalities, and this beat up New Yorker is the perfect example of how those knocks, dents and scratches (and even lack of doors) give a car its character.

Ken Block: My Modern Day Superhero

Now the dust has quite literally settled upon the sun-baked streets of Los Angeles, and Ken Block’s snorting ’65 Mustang is stabled and resting, I can reflect on Gymkhana 7 and how it turned back my metaphorical clock by three decades or so.

To elucidate on the actual driving that went on in L.A., I penned an article for Motorward magazine along with the video, ignoring all of the details such as driving techniques and listing reams of technical data, instead harping on about how Block and his fantastical machine took me back in time for 12 minutes, leaving me a little confused and angry at the fact I found myself back in 2014 as a 36 -year-old afterwards.

Rally purists may criticise Block and his Rally X/Drift hybrid style, but this is 2014 – if X Games dirt bike riders can get away with grabbing massive air, opening their legs and calling the move the ‘Paris Hilton’, then Block is doing the right thing here – it simply boils down to exciting and impressive viewing. Don’t get me wrong though; I’m a massive fan of the X Fighters bike format, along with all the X Games sports, and adding cars with 80’s Group B rally power to the list is obviously a recipe for success.

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Big power and exciting viewing leads me neatly onto the superhero/stuntman angle I’m pushing here – for those 12 minutes I sat gawping as the Block’s Hoonicorn tore up the streets of L.A., miles of internal wiring fused inside my head, leaving me experiencing waves of nostalgia, seamless flashbacks of stars and stripes, bleating dixie horns, and a whole fleet of toys I put through a similar ordeal to the car on my computer screen.

Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle

Dukes of Hazzard Wrist Racer

Dukes of Hazzard Wrist Racer

007's Underwater Lotus Esprite

007’s Underwater Lotus Esprite

The toys pictured above were my favourites, and I think it was the combination of terrific film producing, the smoking and squealing of tyres, that evil Mustang, and of course its superhuman pilot that evoked their memory.

Dressed in a retro style leather jacket and donning a glittery patriotic race helmet along with meridian goggles and skull face scarf, Ken Block was my childhood Bo Duke, my Evel Knievel, my James Bond, my Bandit, and perhaps even my Superman all wrapped up into one super-being.

So now it’s all over, do I watch it again and go back to 1982, or do I face reality and help my wife lay the table?

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Highway To Hell: Brian Johnson On Cars

If you’re a gearhead/petrolhead, you’ve never had it so good when it comes to TV. I manage to track and watch all of them, which does take up A LOT of time. In fact, when I found out about a show airing on UK’s DAVE channel (Sin City Motors) – there will be a review once I’ve viewed it – I was thinking how many great automotive programs are now available, especially with For The Love Of Cars now airing on terrestrial channel 4.

Automotive television is obviously attracting great numbers as the Quest channel are set to air their new series, Cars That Rock on May 8th. Aptly titled, it’s hosted by car fanatic and AC/DC frontman, Brian Johnson.

In each one hour episode, the rock legend presents six of his favourite makes of cars, explaining his passion for them. It’s no secret Brian loves cars, as he’s appeared on a few programs, including Topgear, where he had to drive a hybrid whilst James May took the singer’s 1928 Bentley 4 1/2-Litre tourer for a spin – what I personally loved about that episode was the fact Brian explained he used the grand Bentley everyday to go to the shops… magnificent!

He told USA Today: “My favourite car that I ordered is a 1928 Bentley. I love to drive it because it’s a challenge. … The gas pedal’s in the middle, it’s got no synchromesh, the hand brake’s on the outside, and it’s got two aero screens instead of a windshield. It’s a bit of a do, but it’s such a wonderful thing, because it’s two-and-a-half tons and it has drums brakes. And you just respect it.”

The AC/DC frontman also loves to race his cars, another attribute I respect over the guys who keep their collections locked up in garages. His website, Brian Johnson Racing is dedicated to his second passion, offering everything from his racing diary to his online shop.

I’m defiantly looking forward to this and will be tuning in – I just have to find an excuse to give my better half as to why they’ll be more cars taking over the TV.

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For The Love Of Cars: TV At Its Best

Last night I settled down to watch an automotive program on terrestrial TV that wasn’t Top Gear. From the previews I was expecting great things, and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I didn’t want it to end. Top Gear is great for laughs and watching cars that are all shiny and bursting with horsepower, and whilst this program, For The Love Of Cars had its comedy moments, its main hook was the way in which it featured the car’s historic significance with a little mechanical knowledge, all in the name of resurrecting a rare Mk 1 Ford Escort Mexico.

Presenter and car fanatic, Philip Glenister (also an actor in various Brit flicks) and internationally renowned car designer Ant Anstead’s series mission is to scour the barns and lock ups of Britain for wrecks to bring to life.

Money wasn’t an object, so everything done was executed properly. The rusty barn find (just a shell with a rotten front end) set them back a whopping £8K, and after restoring it with a certain look in mind, the presenter goes on a mission and delves into the world of the Mk 1 Escort by hanging out with various owners and clubs. His initial mind’s eye finish ends up completely different thanks to some expert knowledge and advice. This is the part that made the show so great.

American’s may not know this particular Ford as it’s small in comparison with the Mustangs and other Fords produced in the US around that period. The Escort Mexico was and still is considered one of the best rally cars ever made, and if you’re a fan of the Fast & Furious  franchise, you’ll know the car from the sixth instalment (pictured below).

The Escort Mk1 and Mk2 chassis is so good, four decades on and it’s still used by amateur rally drivers. Did I say amateurs? Forgive me, as Ken Block claims his Mk 2 is one of the best cars to Hoon in. Check out the video below and see just how good the Escort is.

For The Love Of Cars also featured the Harris family, a South London family thought to have started the whole ‘Boy Racer’ craze. One of the older members took on the job of hand building the barn finds Mexico’s 1800cc engine – it was fantastic witnessing the skill and care that went into it.

The whole program was pure entertainment and extremely fascinating. Of course, I was straight on eBay looking up Mk1 Mexicos… you’d need around £25,000 to secure a decent one 😦 Oh well, a man can dream…

If you haven’t watched it yet, For The Love Of Cars is aired on Ch4 on Sunday. Next week’s episode features a gorgeous Mk1 Land Rover.