Automakers are always trying to grab our attention with singular style, outrageous (or outrageously sexy, powerful, expensive, etc.) concept vehicles they showcase at the world’s biggest auto shows, even one-off or “halo” cars meant to lift a brand’s image. But there are also many, many clearly odd, quirky and strange stories about cars out there. We thought it might be fun to do a roundup of some of these, like the Nissan glow-in-the-dark Leaf and other offbeat car news. Enjoy.
With the brightly glowing blue paint on the Nissan Leaf shown here, you’d never worry about where you parked the highly-efficient eco car that boasts low charging costs. Even better, although Nissan says it has no plans to put glow-in-the-dark paint on cars anytime soon, this brilliant paint job will last 25 years. (All the better to spot that Leaf in the used car lot sometime in the future?) And the sun is all that’s needed to recharge the glowing paint.
In other paint news from Nissan demonstrated at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Japanese automaker has developed a paint finish that literally sheds grease and dirt. We’d love to have that on our next new vehicle. It would save a whole lot on car washes, to be sure. In the white Nissan Leaf pictured here, the car has a thick, dense Teflon-like coating that allows grime to slide down the car – like hot fudge dripping down ice cream. Nissan says all that’s needed is a little air or water to rid the Leaf of hard-to-remove liquids. One thing we don’t like is the car’s matte finish. We like our cars shiny, although we could maybe learn to love matte.
The No. 44 Team Xtreme NASCAR Sprint Cup race car was found abandoned in suburban Atlanta 24 hours after being stolen along with a white unmarked truck and trailer that had been parked at a hotel near Stockbridge, Georgia. Police received a call about a suspicious vehicle off on the side of the road and quickly responded. They found the $250,000 race car with no apparent damage. The truck was later spotted, although the trailer was still missing. While Team Xtreme is happy to have the No. 44 race car back, it wasn’t in time for a weekend race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
It’s no joke. Actually, the Rotary Club in Iron Mountain, Michigan is reviving a longtime tradition of holding a fundraising contest where townsfolk and out-of-towners can guess when a vehicle will fall through the ice at the hundreds-of-feet deep lake at Chapin Mine. The vehicle in question is a 1988 Saturn beater that the owner’s wife wanted out of the driveway. Local vocational school kids painted the car a bright orange, the better to be seen from the highway. High-tech gear was donated by a local company to record on webcam the exact moment the car slips through the ice. All the car’s fluids have been drained, the engine and transmission removed, and the vehicle tethered so it can be retrieved once it sinks. This is even though there are dozens of old wrecks at the bottom of the lake, it’s against the law to intentionally sink a car there nowadays. As for when the car will actually sink, it’s anyone’s guess. The lucky participant stands to win $1,000 in this unique winter pastime.
Undeniably cute, but how practical it could be is another matter. Nevertheless, the N-Truck/N-CAMP Honda unveiled at the Japan Camper Show isn’t scheduled for production anytime soon and will likely never make it to the U.S. The vehicle is based on a Honda Kei, a Japanese subcompact car that’s less than 11.2 feet in length and about 5 feet in height. The trailer is about the same height and has armchairs clad in green velour, a table, magazine rack, a loft bed for two and – we kid you not – shag carpeting.
Rumors swirling about the iPhone maker creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle, codenamed “Titan,” have created an interesting firestorm in automotive circles. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the initial design of the vehicle resembles a minivan. Of course, Apple could decide not to go ahead with the project, or it could use the technologies it investigates in other company products. What it apparently won’t be is a self-driving car. We’ll just have to wait and see what develops.
In the not-to-be-believed-but-true category, a man in Spokane, Washington says he crashed his car because of an owl. The man told police he was owl watching when he lost control and smashed into a utility pole. The incident occurred during the pre-dawn hours and no one was injured, including the owl. The driver did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and was not arrested.
It’s a case of dumb and dumber that we hear from Ireland’s Independent.ie: a man attempts to throw a brick through a car window and the brick bounces back and knocks him unconscious. The would-be thief was found by the car’s owner, who also owns the nearby Pheasant pub, when he came out to investigate and saw the man lying on the ground in a pool of blood, his face in ribbons. The local authorities scooped the hapless crook up and the case remains under investigation.