Category:
Motor Vehicles

The Wildflower State

Texas license plates currently display the slogan "The Lone Star State." But before that became the license plate motto, state residents had to fight off a number of attempts to display slogans that weren't quite as manly.

In 1985, Texas highway commissioners voted to display "The Wildflower State" on Texas tags. The phrase would have been printed over a faint outline of a bluebonnet. The idea prompted 57 state lawmakers to sign a letter of protest. Critics complained that the slogan "dealt a blow to the Texas mystique." So the commissioners backed down.

Then, in 1989, the commissioners wanted to display "The Friendship State" on plates. After all, the state motto is "Friendship." But again, popular protests complained that the phrase was "too wimpy."

It was only in 1992 that the commissioners finally gave in to popular demands and started printing "The Lone Star State" on plates.

If you're interested in the history of Texas license plates, Wikipedia has a list of their design by year.

Longview News Journal - July 26, 1985



Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 23, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Government, Motor Vehicles

Anti-Safety Device

It's a combo seat-buckle alarm stopper and bottler opener. So that you can crack open a cold one when you get in the car, and then drive seat-belt free. You can find tons of them for sale on eBay, where they go for as little as 74 cents each.

They should give these away as a freebie when you buy a cellphone to make it a trifecta of unsafe driving.

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 30, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Cars

Horn OK Please



Atlas Obscura does a great job explaining the wacky phrase from India, "Horn OK Please." But they do not place the video of the song that uses the same title upfront enough for my tastes!

Posted By: Paul - Tue May 23, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Languages, Slang, Motor Vehicles, India

The Drivometer

A device for simulating driving, and measuring the skill of drivers, which was developed at Iowa State's Driving Research Laboratory in the 1930s.



A description of what it felt like to operate the thing. It sounds like it would have made a good arcade game. From The Dalles Chronicle - Aug 21, 1936:

Dr. Alvan R. Lauer of Iowa State college sent here today a shiny red instrument of torture, designed apparently to give the ordinary, garden-variety motorist the everlasting willies. This device, which Dr. Lauer invented and christened the drivometer, insidiously reverses the usual laws of nature and turns them wrong side forward. The drivometer consists essentially of an automobile which doesn’t move, and a landscape which does, at 50 miles an hour. Imagine that, if you can! We couldn’t either, until the American Automobile association persuaded us to sit behind the wheel. The road twisted like a hula dancer – and we were supposed to steer down it, paying close attention to stop lights, warning signals, WPA men working, and hot dog stands. Never before have we had such a ride. We knocked a truck off the road. We ran down a farmer’s daughter and we wrecked his house. We whanged into a freight train, jumped across a mountain range, drove through a lake and smashed an ice cream shoppe into tutti-frutti. We tried to stop the thing, but everything we pressed made it go faster. We shifted into reverse and raced to the rear, bumping barns, beats and bicycles. Sadly shaking his head, Earl Allgaier, the AAA safety expert, turned off the current. He said we didn’t seem to be very well coordinated, somehow, but that he’d test us on his other machinery. This, together with the drivometer, will be taken on a nationwide tour beginning next week to prove to the average motorist that he’s got a lot to learn.


Update: I think the top picture shows the 2nd version of the Driveometer, developed in the 1950s. The original version, from the 1930s, is below.

Wausau Daily Herald - Oct 26, 1937


Posted By: Alex - Tue May 09, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Cars, Science, 1930s

The Rhino





More info here.

1954 coverage here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu May 04, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Inventions, Motor Vehicles, 1950s

Star Wars Celica GT

Back in 1977, as a stunt to help promote the opening of Star Wars, Toyota created a custom Star Wars Celica GT. Then they raffled off the car. Somebody won it, but nobody knows who. The fate of this car has become something of an obsession among fans of the movie. Was it destroyed? Is it still sitting in a garage somewhere? The mystery endures...

More info: SpeedHero, jalopnik





Santa Ana Register - Oct 8, 1977

Posted By: Alex - Thu Mar 23, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Cars, Movies, 1970s

Brake Reaction Time

In the mid 1930s, Dr. Harry DeSilva of the Massachusetts State College at Amherst created a brake reaction test to measure how quickly drivers can step on the brake in response to a red light. He took it around the country and tested thousands of people.

People in their mid 20s generally had the quickest reaction times, and then times declined with age, which wasn't a surprise. Slightly more surprising was that short people generally had faster responses than tall people. From Time magazine (Aug 1935):

The average reaction time was .43 sec. The fastest was .26 sec. The slowest was .90 sec. It was found that tall persons generally react a little more slowly than short people, no doubt because motor nerve impulses travel through the body at about 300 ft. per sec. and thus for tall persons the motor impulse would take longer to go from the brain to the foot. Another theory is that short people simply have less leg to deal with.


Time - Aug 26, 1935



Democrat and Chronicle - Mar 15, 1936

Posted By: Alex - Fri Mar 17, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Cars, Psychology, 1930s

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