‘Muricans love the Maloo
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When you get right down to it, there aren’t that many differences between Oklahoma or Kentucky and rural Victoria.
Aside from the numberplates on the cars and the accents of the people, they’re basically the same place.
Now one plucky engineer with a penchant for Holden power has found a way to legally convert HSV-badged ute fodder into left-hand drive machines — to the undoubted joy of a small audience of Middle Americans.
It’s a clever concept when you think about it; the HSV Maloo and its ilk are essentially two-seater performance coupes with a tray.
Remarkably, in the land of the automobile, this style of light truck no longer exists; the Chevy El Camino went out of production in 1987 and was never replaced by anything similar.
The man with the contacts Downunder is a bloke by the name of Randy Reese, out of Denver, Colorado. He realised a niche market existed for the low-riding utes with stylised tonneau covers and big engines and started importing Holden ute bodies as parts from Aussie and combining them with domestic General Motors mechanicals in the US.
As you’d expect, the Yankee utes don’t look any different from their Ocker counterparts (have a look at the image gallery on lefthandutes.com).
Reese also converts the occasional Ford Falcon XR8 ute. Some of the more potent fodder sells for six-figures Stateside, so there’s clearly a market there.
Heard of coal-rolling?
Coal Rolling. Photo / Supplied
Coal-rolling seems something of an appropriate hillbilly pastime in Trump’s America.
At a time when the head of the Environmental Protection Agency is a climate change sceptic, the notion of legions of diesel pick-up trucks being converted into black soot-spouting monsters shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Though it might look spectacular, not everyone finds being covered in the soot from unburnt diesel overly exciting, especially the cyclists and (we presume) level-headed hybrid vehicle owners of Maryland.
That state has just passed into law the first anti-coal-rolling bill, forcing coal-rolling rednecks to stop “intentionally causing a diesel-powered motor vehicle to discharge clearly visible smoke, soot, or other exhaust emissions on to another person or motor vehicle”.
You won’t always find us siding with Prius owners, but this seems fair.
Offenders are liable to be fined around US$500.
Google co-founder does a Howard Hughes
Sergey Brin. Photo / Supplied
Has Google co-founder Sergey Brin gone a bit doolally? According to a story in the Guardian, Brin is looking to build the world’s largest airship.
The report didn’t mention Kleenex tissue boxes worn as shoes, but we can’t help but think of mad genius aviator/filmmaker Howard Hughes when dreams of developing supersized aircraft are discussed.
Brin certainly has the wherewithalto make it happen, though. As co-founder of Google, he’s worth approximately a million billion dollars (we did say approximately).
But rather than develop an airship so he can waft from (slightly above) the casinos of the French Riviera to (slightly above) St Andrews for a spot of golf, Brin is developing the airship for food and humanitarian missions.
The Guardian reports the airship is being constructed in a secure Nasa facility and will be a shade under 200m long.
That’s not quite as long as the zeppelins of the 1920s and 1930s or the USS Macon but, assuming it gets off the ground, it’ll be the biggest airship in operation today.
Sources say the airship is being designed with a complex system of internal gas bladders to control its buoyancy, meaning it will be able to offload heavy cargo in the most remote locations.
With no need for a long runway, the airship would be able to reach disaster zones and the like, where infrastructure has been damaged or doesn’t exist.
Brin has apparently been a fan of airships for many years. Google flies its executive jets in and out of Nasa’s Ames airfield, where the gigantic USS Macon hangars are, so all that time spent taxiing back and forth clearly got the thought process flowing.
As long as Brin hasn’t taken to storing his urine in jars, it would appear his intentions for lighter-than-air travel in the world’s largest airship remain solidly admirable.