By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario — June 23, 2016 — This week we look into a series of crazy accidents, a Jaguar that wound up on the roof of a school in southern Ontario and Rolls-Royce’s vision for the future of luxury.
– Denis Lafferty owns a shop in Salem, Massuchusetts and thought he had solved a problem. His shop is on a sharp corner and over the years he’s suffered several incidents in which drivers have missed the turn and slammed into his shop. The latest incident occurred a couple of months ago when an SUV missed a turn and crashed through a fence at Carzntrux Collision Repair, trashing four vehicles. The owner painted the phrase “Don’t Drink & Drive!” onto the bed of a demolished truck he put on the corner as a warning to drivers. This past Saturday the driver of a truck missed the turn, plowed through the chain-link fence and smashed right into the “Don’t Drink & Drive!” warning truck. According a report in the local paper, the owner said “This driver managed to land his vehicle right on top of it!”
– When a car crashed into Texas-based Schnitker Autobody the owner said he heard “two small bangs” and that the building shook. “When I came out I saw this little Tahoe trying to get into my building,” he told a local reporter. The car took out two utility poles knocking out power to about 1,000 homes in the area. No one was hurt. The driver fled from the scene on foot.
– Drivers on Highway 401 in Ontario witnessed a tractor-trailer that went up in flames this week. According to a CBC report the truck was carrying cinnamon buns when it caught fire in the westbound lanes of the 401 near Drumbo, Ontario. The driver managed to pull over and get out but the cinnamon buns were toast.
– Someone evading police left a trail of damaged vehicles through Ottawa’s Alta Vista neighbourhood Wednesday. The chase saw multiple vehicles damaged along the route and pedestrians had to jump out of the way.
– Six members of the Class of 2016 at Grimsby Secondary School pulled a remarkably impressive graduation prank. “It took about a month to execute,” said one of the half-dozen future engineering and computer science students who took part in the prank. The students bought a 2001 Jaguar S-Type on Kijiji for $750. Worried the 6,000 lb. car would be too tough to lift or would crush the roof, they rebuilt the exterior of the car on a wood base. According to a Toronto Star report, “Knowing the janitor only works weekdays, the conspirators gathered on Sunday evening to use an intricate pulley system they learned how to build in physics class to pull the pieces of the frame to the roof.”
On Monday morning everyone arrived to find what appeared to be “a fully-loaded sports car, complete with school mascot Baldwin the Eagle in the driver’s seat, and a licence plate reading GSS2016.”
– Collision Repair magazine has reported in the past about the long line-up to get recalled Takata airbags fixed. The national state broadcaster CBC has taken up the issue as well. In a large-scale investigative report the CBC put together a major story about the frustrations of Canadian Honda owners. According to the CBC, Canadian car owners have been left out to dry in this recall. The risks with the airbags are said to increase in warm, humid climates. As a result, the repairs are being carried out first in the American south. Even so, Honda sent out a letter to owners of affected vehicles suggesting no one ride in the passenger seat here in Canada. The CBC camera crew got lots of footage of the reporter sitting in the backseat of a Honda while talking to the owner driving from the front seat. Awkward. Owners, obviously, are annoyed. When CBC asked Honda when the Canadian owners can expect their Takata airbags to be replaced the company replied that it “can’t say.”
– This was a complete surprise. Last September the Ontario government passed a new law, the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act. One little-known provision in that act requires drivers leave at least one metre of space between their vehicle and any cyclists they pass. This wasn’t reported widely at the time. But traffic police are aware it’s there. This week local media reported that a bike-mounted officer cruised around Ottawa testing a handlebar-mounted sonar device that made a loud noise whenever a car came within one meter of the bike. The offence carries a $180 fine and a penalty of two demerit points. The officers in this case weren’t handing out tickets, only making drivers aware. For now.
– This is odd. According to a report on Jalopnik, more than a dozen super high-end cars have been seized by the police and no reasons have been given for the seizure 100 days after the impounding. A driver from California claims his high-end vehicle is being held along with 16 other supercars. The driver notes that when the cars were out for a ride a biker was involved in a minor scrape with one of the group. Several days later police performed multiple raids on the homes of everyone involved. SWAT-team like tactics were deployed. The cars were impounded. One hundred days later the police have yet to say why the cars have been held for. One source claims he saw police joyriding in the cars. The police say they were just testing the performance characteristics of the vehicles.
-Speaking of high-end cars, the Dodge Viper supercar is going to be cancelled for a second time. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced Tuesday that the 25th anniversary year of the car will be its last.
“The Dodge Viper has had a great run and, 25 years after it was first introduced, it leaves the super car world reaching for the records it continues to set,” said Tim Kuniskis, Fiat Chrysler’s head of passenger cars and the Dodge brand, in a press release. The Viper had a reputation for being difficult to control on the road, but was “coveted by street racing enthusiasts and car collectors alike,” according to a report.
– A Porsche executive has thrown serious shade at electric car wonder boy Elon Musk. The Porsche executive was unveiling the Mission E Concept car from Porsche. He claimed Porsche is going to do a way better job at making an electric car than the Hyper Loop entrepreneur Elon Musk will do. “The thing about [Tesla’s] ‘Ludicrous Mode’ [which allows the car to accelerate rapidly] is that it’s a façade. Two launches saps the whole battery. That won’t be the case with the Mission E. You’ll be able to run it hard, over and over; the battery will not overheat, the power control module will not overheat, and the seats will not suck,” said the Porsche exec. According to a report the Mission E has a “system power output of over 600 HP (440 kW), sprints from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 3.5 seconds and boasts a 500+ km (310+ miles) range…[and the] ability of continuously running without overheating…”
– In other news from the world of Elon Musk, markets were not impressed when a deal was announced this week that saw Elon Musk’s solar panel company acquired by his car company Tesla. Markets don’t see the point of the deal, and made that clear by heavily selling out of the stock of Tesla, which was down 10 percent on the week. Elon called the deal a “no-brainer.” Investors disagree and wiped more than $3 billion off the value of Tesla. That’s the company’s biggest percentage drop in nearly two years.
– Poor Suzanne Clapp. A resident of Toronto’s tony Rosedale neighbourhood, she might not have known about the popularity of the neighbourhood among sophisticated car thieves. Gangs of international carjackers have been known to prowl the neighbourhood looking for just the right model with the right options to fill individual offshore orders. Clapp’s new Lexus GX 460 is apparently a popular choice. It’s been stolen and recovered twice now. “Your car’s gone again,” her husband recently said one morning. Sure enough, when police found it the car was already in a shipping container ready to be transported offshore. “Once is one thing, you think, ‘It happens to people. It’s bad luck.’ A second time you got to start thinking it has something to do with the vehicle,” she said.
-Rolls-Royce released a video showing off what “ultra-luxury vehicles could look like over the next century” this week. The concept car, the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100, borrows the look and design of a super-yacht. Or so says a report on the car. Pretty fancy … if you’re into that kind of thing. Others have described the car as, to put it succintly, “ugly.” It’s also an autonomous vehicle with no steering wheel and what press releases have described as a “silk throne.”