The Pope Just Peaced Out Of The Vatican In This Awesome Helicopter

After putting in his two weeks notice earlier this month, today is Pope Benedict XVI's last day in office. Is he leaving the Vatican in a Popemobile? No way, he's taking to the sky.

The Pope just departed in what appears to be an Agusta Westland AW139. He'll be flying to his summer home at Castel Gandolfo, a few miles southeast of Rome.

Remember, although Benedict does not have a driver's license, he does have a helicopter license. I don't think he's flying it himself, though.

But while he's not a car guy, the outgoing Pope does have a motorcycle license, and he will no doubt be spending his retirement running hot laps around the Castel Gandolfo track in his personalized Honda CBR1000RR. (I just made that last paragraph up. I wish it were true, though.)



This Is How The Air Force Refuels Planes Midair

Have you ever wondered how the Air Force gets fuel into planes in midair? I bet you thought the pilots did it all. They certainly play a big role, but the main person in this operation is a guy (or gal) laying on his stomach, looking out of a huge window in the bottom of the tanker plane, "flying" the fuel boom with a joystick.

This video shows a squadron of USAF A-10 Warthogs (the 124th Air Wing's 190th Fighter Squadron) refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker.



Is This the World’s Worst Lamborghini Replica?

SAM_0512

 

I was having a discussion with the lovely Ms. Amber Blonigan of GI Motorsport last night about how fun it would be to have a real demolition derby with some 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo’s, and Ferrari 360′s, both of which would be immense fun to destroy. This led to a conversation about replica exotics, which led to an Ebay Search, which led to a discussion on how the owners and builders of replica exotics are delusional in thinking their fakery is worth actual dollars. I myself tried to buy a replica Ferrari a year or so back specifically for the point of finding out which was more flammable, a real Ferrari or a Fake one, and was dumbfounded at the kind of money people wanted. $25,000 and more for a fake Ferrari? Hell, you can buy a real Ferrari for that kind of money. Which brings me to this miracle of modern engineering.

There are so many things wrong with this abomination, I don’t even know where to start. Oh wait, yes I do: It’s built on a 1996 Dodge Stratus. What would make someone think that a Stratus would be a perfect donor car for a Lamborghini? They even left the engine in the front, creating the most awkward looking front end in the history of cars. But the fact that it’s on a Stratus isn’t the worst part. The worst part is that, as of this writing, this shitbox has 39 FUCKING BIDS! The car will sell for at least the current bidding price of $9,350, which is just under four times what I recently paid for my dearly departed, V12, bulletproof Mercedes S600. 

The seller says this car was built by some movie studio to use as a “background prop,” but for all the movie executives out there, please take my advice: rather than throwing your money down the toilet, please hit me up through Gotham Dream Cars and rent one of my real Lamborghini’s for a fraction of whatever this cost to build.

Get your vomit bags ready and hit the jump for the single most shameful gallery we’ve ever posted, then tell us what the worst part of this car is.

SAM_0516 SAM_0532 SAM_0525 SAM_0524 SAM_0523 SAM_0522 SAM_0517 SAM_0518 SAM_0519 SAM_0520 SAM_0521 SAM_0515 SAM_0514 SAM_0513 SAM_0512 SAM_0511

And if you are dumb enough to drop ten large on this deathtrap, find it on Ebay Here. 

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Monster 1965 MINI Cooper with 5.7-liter V8 Sure Contradicts Itself…


What an oxymoron; a MINI monster truck. As you can see for yourself, the only thing really "mini" about this strange-looking automotive creature that we found for sale on eBay is the shell and the interior of the classic 1965 MINI Cooper.

Right under the metal skin there's a Jeep Wrangler YJ frame (built from 1987 to 1995), upgraded with a 6-inch lift kit and an assortment of other aftermarket parts, while the tall engine bay is home to a brand-new 350 cubic inch (5.7-liter V8) crate motor.

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John Z. DeLorean’s $2.18 Million House Sadly Does Not Have Gullwing Doors

Hey, wanna buy John Z. DeLorean's house in California? It's not as cool as you'd think it is. But it's pretty nice. And crazy expensive.

For just $2.18 million, you can find yourself in John Z.'s 17-acre, four-bedroom 1960 ranch house in the Pauma Valley Country Club in San Diego County. There are also horse stables. I would have expected a garage full of muscle cars and DMC-12s, but horses are nice too, I guess. Insert the cocaine joke of your choice here, please. 

Fortunately, the country club it's in has a private airport of its own, so maybe you can convince them to let you engage in some airstrip hoonage. John Z., who as you all know died in 2005, would have wanted it that way. And no, the doors are not gull-winged, sorry. 

Photo credit The Davidson Group

Hat tip to Adrian at Curbed!



Here We Have The 1140-hp Koenigsegg Engine

Having used the Ford Modular V8 as a launch pad, Koenigsegg reengineered this berserker mill for the Agera R hypercar from the ground up at its headquarters in Ängelholm, Sweden. Its goal? Specifically to get as many horses galloping as possible.

On this episode of Inside Koenigsegg, Christian Von Koenigsegg gives us a walk-around tour of the five-liter, 1140-horsepower V8 that provides the Agera R with its cornea-popping performance. It's the "heart of a hypercar" if you will.

Weighing around 436 pounds, the V8 is bolted right onto the Agera R's carbon-fiber monocoque to act as a stressed member, like engines often do on purpose-built racecars. 

Interesting to note, cars headed to Brazil are factory-tuned to run on straight ethanol (E100), which is heavily used in that sugar cane-rich nation, where nearly all new cars sold are flex-fuel capable.



FBI-Crashed Ferrari F50 For Sale On Ebay

In 2003, a Ferrari F50, one of just 50 imported into the United States, was stolen from a dealership in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. In 2009, long after the long after the insurance company had paid the dealership for the theft, the car was recovered in an unrelated FBI sting operation. The training given FBI agents doesn't include driving exotic...

Illegal Horse-Buggy Drag Racers Slow Down Traffic in Romania


Talk about horsing around. Two men were captured on camera on a Romanian highway leading to Bucharest drag racing their…horse buggies.

A large commercial van with its rear tailgate open and a black BMW 3-Seires sedan with its alarms blinking were following on from behind – though, we can't say for sure if they were part of the racing crew or annoyed road users waiting for the enlightened duo to finish their 10 minute quarter mile race.

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Inside Koenigsegg’s 1,140 Horsepower V-8 Engine: Video

Building a low-volume supercar is a daunting, time-consuming and expensive process, which is why manufacturers often look to outside vendors to supply the engine. Pagani, for example, has a long-standing relationship with AMG, and even McLaren turned to BMW for the 6.1-liter V-12 used in the McLaren F1. As this episode of Inside Koenigsegg shows...

Professor charged for crashing his Maserati — we found his stupid forum posts

Brandon P. van Zyl wrecked his expensive car and got himself charged for impaired driving at 11 am on a weekday, in a small-town crash that also injured the driver of a pickup truck. But before all that, he left a long list of eyebrow-raising posts at the Maseratilife.com owners forum. Then he left some more after the crash.

While most people associate the Maserati Quattroporte with scenic drives along Tuscan roadways or casino-lined Rivieras, this four-door Ferrari-powered import is also sold in far away places like Canada. Which is how a 2011 QP GTS, owned by Mr. van Zyl, came to be ruined in the Nova Scotia town of New Glasgow, pop. 9500.

The 42 year old associate physics professor and soccer dad is scheduled to stand before a judge next week, after pleading not guilty to charges of dangerous driving and impaired driving from the October crash. 

Mike Smeltzer, a member of the Subaruclub.ca forums, happens to work at the tire shop across the street from the crash. He snapped these pictures and shared the story on that forum.

"Maserati pulled out to pass a line of cars, lost control and this was the end
result"

Other local Subaruclub.ca members familiar with the black Maserati added their thoughts.

"When I was up there, the driver was always keen to play the exhaust note thats
for sure. I could never hook with him, but he wasn't afraid to please the crowd."

"We've all been saying since the guy got the car that it was just a matter of time
before this happened. He was a total douche driving around, tailgating and
reving his engine trying to get anything and everything to race him on the main
streets."

Mr. van Zyl teaches a few miles down the road at St. Francis Xavier University. Reviews on ratemyprofessors.com (where we found the photo above, clearly from his younger days) describe him as "childish" and "a bit full of himself." He's also seen as a tough marker. Others purr that he's "hot." His score is 3.2.

Since 2011, he's been an active member of the Maseratilife.com owners forum, posting under the user name bvanzyl.

A reading of his 600+ posts reveals this crash might have been prevented, had van Zyl heeded multiple warnings from police, friends and his wife.

Instead, he wilfully ignores them. Furthermore, he chooses to post online, bragging about his exploits and defending his questionable driving habits to a sympathetic group of fellow Maserati owners.

In May of 2011, van Zyl claims to have hit an impressive top speed.

"170 mph ... For the cops reading this, maybe I'm joking. Lol."

A year later, he's pulled over at the side of the road, talking his way out of a ticket.

"I was pulled over yesterday and warned that I was not allowed to use engine braking in the town limits.

My car is a fully auto QP GTS. I was driving in sport manual mode, and downshifting.

Anyone else ever had this happen? I explained to the officer that the car is an automatic. Is this strictly engine braking? I love the blip on downshifts in sport manual mode, and would hate to have to now drive in auto just to avoid the po-po. The officer informed me that they will ticket next time. WTF?"

A couple of hours later, in the same thread:

"Lol. I think I'll roll the dice. Cops have NOTHING better to do here. RCMP R a
joke. Funny, all crotch rocket bikes are ignored. I know the radio chatter - black
Masearti, pull him over."

Same thread, two days later, van Zyl gets another warning, which he prophetically ignores.

"The police have been looking out for me ever since I got the car. A local officer
(who has a kid that plays soccer with my boys) told me to be careful. Several
people have complained about the noise and claim I was speeding ... Anyway, I'm
going to continue to drive the car as usual, and when/if I get stopped again, I'd
rather go to court."

Besides:

"The father of one of our friends is a judge, but alas, he doesn't handle traffic cases. I'm sure I can always call in a favour or two regardless.

Of course, my wife likes to remind me that she warned me that this would happen. Lol. Her mantra last year was "Why do you have to drive that thing in sport mode? It's so loud".

Then, just days before the crash, he describes another warning from the police:

A few weeks ago, there were flashing lights in my driveway! Someone complained, and the RCMP paid me a visit a few hours after I had parked the car. Verbal warning, etc, and the conversation quickly went to the car, how nice it is, and how fast I've had it up to (off the record). Lol. I was told that the complainant said I had made an unsafe lane change.......hell, I was only picking up some milk.

Up until this point, Mr. van Zyl simply feels he's being persecuted for showing too much flash in small town Nova Scotia. He worked hard, and now he wants to drive the dream car he
rightfully earned.

Except, he didn't:

"I wonder how many of the gents here actually purchased their cars? In my case, I could NEVER afford a brand new Maser on my salary. LOL. My wife paid for it, but interestingly, she has absolutely no interest in driving the car, or any of the others for that matter.

We have a fleet of cars, some of which are more expensive than "our" new QP, but she still drives our 11 year old Honda Accord!!!!!!! ...
I've said it before, and I'll say it again "It's nice to be a kept man""

Despite the arrest, the legal bills and the costly front-end damage, van Zyl, who says his other cars include a lowly Audi S8, isn't done with the Maserati life. 

After taking a four month break from posting at the owners forum, he recently returned, indicating he's taking a serious look at the 2014 model (which he says starts around $150,000 CAD, if you have to ask).

Though van Zyl regretfully had to turn down an invitation to the Toronto launch event, last week he posted asking for impressions of one crucial detail:

"An important factor for me is the exhaust note, as my current QP GTS is nothing short of outstanding in that category."

"I'm also looking forward to a test drive, I just have to find the time to fly to either Montreal or Toronto to take one out for a spin."

Mr. van Zyl has never acknowledged the crash on the Maseratilife.com forum, and it's not clear if his car has been repaired. It's winter now anyway, so something lesser from the family fleet might have to get him to court on Monday morning. Not that he's likely to take advice, but he might want to plan for a ride home and hold off on booking that test drive. If convicted, he faces a lengthy licence suspension and up to 5 years in prison on the dangerous driving charge.

That is, unless he can call in a favour from the judge on this one.

2014 VW Golf GTI Revealed in Production Guise, Available in 220PS and 230PS Trims


Welcome to the new-old, or what Volkswagen prefers to call the seventh generation of the Golf GTI, which was unveiled today in final production trim following the release of a thinly disguised concept study at last year's Paris Motor Show.

As with the regular Golf MK7 hatchbacks, you'll be forgiven if you're having a hard time telling the new GTI apart from the current model, as VW has followed an extremely conservative evolutionary approach with the design.

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Wonky Tank Falls Off Truck Platform in Belarus


It cannot get more embarrassing for a soldier than this; experiencing a mishap while the public is gathered around watching, taking pictures and, of course, videos, which they then distribute to the always hungry for fails internet crowd...

This unusual incident happened in the Belarusian city of Grodno, which is situated close to the borders of Poland and Lithuania, reportedly earlier this week.

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This Rolls Royce With A Viper Engine Is My New Dream Car

Oh look, a Michigan man had a 500 horsepower Viper V10 installed in a 1930 Rolls-Royce. I think I just found my new dream car.

You see, I love classic cars from before WWII, but I don’t want to put up with their ancient, slow, unreliable engines. Swapping in just about any modern drivetrain would likely solve that problem, which is what makes this resto-mod great. It goes over the top in the most wonderful, American tradition.

A West Michigan shop recently revealed that they have wired a 2004 Dodge Viper powertrain into a two-door 1930 Rolls-Royce, fitted with some custom chassis work as well. Their post on Viper Club’s forum explains the build.

The car is a full restoration with many custom pieces built on a tube frame chassis, and uses a 2004 Viper powertrain. This car was built to be a driver, and all of the problematic original parts have been redesigned or replaced. More or less, it is an original body and design mixed with a new-tech chassis and drivetrain. This car even has heat, A/C, and all of the bells and whistles that go along with professional motorsports electronics.

As Jeff Glucker of Hooniverse noted, I don’t mind that this thing isn’t being set up as a powerslide-prepped doriftomoble or as a rally car. I’m stunned as it is just to see a frankly gorgeous classic car brought up to and past the standards of modern performance. Plus, even set up as a highway cruiser, I have no doubt the 8.3 liters of engine can incinerate those vintage-sized tires with ease.

I can’t wait for its unveiling at the Detroit Autorama in March. For now, join me as I glean every piece of information I can out of its Viper Club forum thread and drool over all the extra pictures there.

Photo Credit: Viper Specialty via Viper Club forums



What Are Rivets For, Anyway?

As America's Arsenal for Democracy shifted its Nazi-ass-kicking apparatus into high gear during WWII, the rivet reigned supreme as the fastener of choice for heavy manufacturing. Everything from buildings and bridges to planes, tanks, and automobiles were stuck together with rivets, fastened into place by air gun-wielding factory workers.

But by the time I was born in the late '70s, burly men and women pounding rivets into cars and trucks had more or less given way to robot arc welders gliding up and down sparsely populated assembly lines. Whenever I've seen a new building going up, I've seen people welding and guys installing high strength bolts, but no riveters. So both the significance of rivets and how they work has escaped me the three-plus decades I've been alive.

But rivets are outstanding heavy duty fasteners, and here's why.

Let's say you want to bolt a bracket to a steel beam. The bracket is going to hold a lot of weight and will be subject to jarring motion, like say, the spring mount on a truck frame would. So why wouldn't you just use a bolt to keep it in place? Simple. Sometimes, bolts don't completely fill the hole they're stuck through, so there's room for movement. They work, but there's still room for error.

Rivets are a different story. A rivet is merely a thin metal rod with one end deformed into a, uh, well, for lack of a better term, into a mushroom tip. The straight end is pushed through the hole drilled into the two pieces being fastened together. Then, with the deformed end of the rivet held in place by something big, heavy, and unmovable – what's called a dolly or bucking bar – the straight end of the rivet is struck repeatedly or squeezed until it forms into a mushroom tip, too.

Now, the two deformed ends of the rivet – which was once just a plain 'ol steel rod – pinch together the two pieces being fastened. But there's more to it, and this is the part I never realized. When the rivet is pounded/squeezed into itself, the whole rivet deforms, filling every nook and cranny in the hole in a way a bolt never could. That's why those suckers are so tight. Plus, you can choose the shape of the rivet's head by using different shaped dollies.

(It's poignant to mention here that their tightness, which usually can't be measured as well as a precisely-torqued bolt, can lead to failure during seismic events. That's why they're no longer used as structural fasteners in big buildings. Bolts are also easier for relatively unskilled laborers to install.)

Of course, small rivets can be placed and deformed cold, but the bigger rivets get, the more force it takes to deform them. It takes a lot of heat and pressure to form a big rivet, so it have to be heated up and squeezed into place by a huge pneumatic ram attached to a massive cast steel C-clamp jig. Smaller rivets, like those pop rivets you may have used or seen used on leather, canvas, or very thin sheet metal, can be placed with specialized hand tools.

Welded joints are stronger and lighter than riveted ones because you don't have to drill a bunch of holes in structural members and weight them down with myriad little globs of extra metal (rivets). Nearly all automotive frames are welded now, although not that long ago, crossmembers and spring hangers were mounted to frame rails with hot rivets. Sometimes, even engine components such as axle ring gears were riveted into place – not so great when the time came to replace the gear. Removing rivets is a messy job that requires drilling or cutting.

At a tech session hosted by the Early Ford V8 Club of Virginia this month, I learned that if you want to refinish an old car the right way, rivets are the only way to go on many structural parts. Much like the English wheel is losing practitioners, there are fewer and fewer people with the equipment and savvy to do big riveting jobs -- for the most part, it's a skill relegated to the aluminum parts handled by the aircraft industry. But from what the Ford guys said, you can fashion some of your own tools for riveting. Just keep in mind that the bigger the rivet, the more time-consuming the setup will be.

But if you have the time and the inclination to learn how to set rivets, there are worse ways you could spend your time.

Photo credit: Wikipedia