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When the Sport of Drag Racing Sold Cars

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Pontiac Catalina drag race

There once was a time when drag racing was a popular part of pop culture. Two V8-powered muscles cars going head-to-head use to be a hallmark of many great movies — The Wraith, Rebel Without A Cause and Two Lane Blacktop, just to name a few — but aside from the high-octane action seen in The Fast and Furious, we hardly see old-school drag races in Hollywood nowadays.

In the 1950s to 70s, a period generally seen as the ‘Golden Age of Drag Racing‘, just about every major American automobile manufacturer was involved in the motorized sport, and all because winning at the “drags” sold them cars! You’ve probably wondered where the old mantra “Win races on Sunday, sell cars on Monday” came from…

A lot of interesting cars came out of Detroit during that time period, and one particular model was especially noteworthy.

Back in the 1960s, the major automobile manufacturers recognized drag racing as a major automotive sport, one nearly as important as Nascar. In an attempt to take advantage of its mainstream status, they made cars specifically designed to take part in the action.

There was one big problem, however, and that was that cars of 60s were too big and heavy to effectively win races, forcing engineers to come up with innovative ways to lighten up their bodies and beef up their engines. The approach Pontiac took with their mid-size Catalina involved using aluminum parts to cut weight and modifying its engine to crank out even more ponies.

The Catalina’s front and rear bumpers, front fenders and fender liners, hood, radiator support, splash pan and radiator all went aluminum, while its big, 421-cu.in. Super Duty V8 received a boost in output.

For the 1963 season, Pontiac realized that even more changes to the Catalina would be necessary to keep it competitive. They tricked out the 421-cu.in. Super Duty V8 even more by adding new Mickey Thompson pistons, a new camshaft grind with lighter valves and beefier valve springs.

The biggest upgrade, however, came in the form of the Catalina going on a crash diet that saw it lose an extra 270 pounds, bringing its curb weight to just 3,300 pounds. To achieve this, engineers transformed the car’s box frame into a U-shaped frame and then cut approximately 120 holes in the steel frame to drop some unnecessary pounds.

Other performance modifications included the removal of the front anti-roll bar and all sound-deadening material and application of thinner-gauge aluminum stampings for the front fenders, hood, and other non-stressed members.

According to the guys at McLoughlin Chevrolet, the Pontiac Catalina has gone down in history as the “Swiss Cheese Pontiac.” With just a few examples of it currently still around, the famous race car is an extremely rare and highly sought-after collectible that could fetch a lot of money

Movie / TV Lists

Top 5 Worst Alien Invasion Movies Ever

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Independence Day Resurgence

The timeless tale of the alien invasion remains a staple of summer blockbusters. For years we’ve been able to look to the skies in terror and then sit back and enjoy the show. Sadly, not all of these movies have been out of this world (pun intended), and quite a number left viewers nodding their heads in disappointment.

Here are five alien movies that merely crash landed onto Earth. The real horror is how terrible they truly are — let us know if you agree with our list…

Independence Day Resurgence

Independence Day: Resurgence

Say what you want about Will Smith, but his decision not to return for this bloated sequel might be one of the smartest things he ever did in his whole career. While the movie maintained its original director in Roland Emmerich and was even able to bring back Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman (among others), it wasn’t enough to save this sorry sequel. The effects are just as bombastic and ridiculous as you’d expect, but critics point out that the sequel is really a poor copy of the original. It’s really just a rehash of the same—and much better and more original—movie from 20 years ago with none of its charm. Sadly, Resurgence simply has no heart and Bill Pullman’s famous speech really only works the first time.

Signs, Alien Movie

Signs

Signs was the beginning of the end for M. Night Shyamalan as a competent filmmaker. Riding high off the success of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, the director attempted to repeat the feat with this alien thriller. While not a completely terrible movie, the aliens themselves look ridiculous and feature some of the worst design you’ll ever see. Plus, the weakness of the aliens is just downright silly. Why would the aliens come to a planet that has more than 70 percent of it covered by their main weakness?

cowboys and aliens, movie

Cowboys and Aliens

On paper, this seemed like a win-win for over-the-top popcorn movies. However, what fans got was a bloated mess of special effects that was both a critical and financial failure. It should have done better, as the cast included Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, and Olivia Wilde, and the movie was directed by Jon Favreau, of Iron Man and The Jungle Book fame. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to save the movie. Fortunately, the film continues to live on in video game form, with its inclusion amongst other slot reels for browsers and mobile devices. It makes full use of the wild west and sci-fi mash-up, and as you might expect, it’s actually a much more fun way to spend your time than watching this mess of a movie.

Plan 9 from outer space, movie

Plan 9 From Outer Space

This classic has been often called the worst movie ever made. Director Ed Wood was the Uwe Boll of his day, and Plan 9 From Outer Space might be both the best and worst movie he ever made. Despite the shoestring budget, Wood was able to hire Dracula actor Bela Lugosi to star in the picture, but the actor’s untimely death had the director resort to using his wife’s chiropractor as a stand-in. The UFOs are clearly cheap models hung on strings and the film is riddled by problems such as boom microphones dropping into shots and actors clearly reading directly from their scripts. A touchstone of bad filmmaking, Plan 9 is a must-see for anyone that loves movies that are so bad they’re good.

Battle - Los Angeles

Battle: Los Angeles

This movie was almost impressive in how utterly forgettable it was. First, find someone that saw Battle: Los Angeles, now ask them to tell you one thing that actually happened during this movie. No one remembers anything about it and when they do they’re usually remembering another film entirely. With a cast completely lacking in any star power, this flick was practically made to fail. And even though the gaming adaptation has some shoddy reviews, (like Cowboys and Aliens) at least the video game is more enjoyable than the film itself.

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The Story of the First Civilian Jeeps

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1950 Willys Jeepster

Would any war movie or TV show (e.g. Nash) set in the 21st century be complete without at least one Willys Jeep strolling around, possibly being shot at?

By now, most people know that the seemingly evergreen Jeep got its start in World War II, where it served as transportation for soldiers, military officers and their gear. In fact, while virtually all the other car manufacturers had to shut down so that their resources could be used for the Allied war effort, Willys Corporation, the company responsible for the Willys Jeep, was kept in operation 24/7 and built some 360,000 vehicles by the end of the war.

After the war was over, every car manufacturers was eager to get back into making civilian vehicles. After all, there was huge pent-up demand among civilians, who had to wait the duration of the entire war (5 years) to buy a new car. Factor in all the returning GIs and you had many people wanting cars and trucks.

Accordingly, in 1948, Willys launched the Willys Jeepster VJ-2, a civilian vehicle loosely based on the Jeeps used in the war. Priced at just $1,765, the VJ-2 came with many standard features that were a first for the time, including chrome hubcaps, whitewall tires, bumper guards, dual horns, and — get ready for this — a dash-mounted cigarette lighter.

The Jeepster proved modestly successful, but Willys’ competitors were hardly standing on the sidelines picking their noses. Most had abandoned the military look for cars with sleek, modern styling, and soon their models started dominating the market.

In response, Willys quickly updated the Jeepster and released the “greatly improved” 1949 Jeepster with a lower base price of just $1,495 and a more powerful, 6 cylinder model (the VJ3-6) priced at $1,530. While sales picked up for a short while, production ended up totaling only 2,960 units for the year — a stunningly low number!

Forging ahead, the company introduced two versions of the 1950 Jeepster, which featured revamped styling highlighted by a new horizontal grill design. One (the VJ-473) sourced its power from a new four-cylinder engine, while the other (VJ-473) packed a six-cylinder unit.

The optimism was there, but the sales wasn’t. Only 5,845 units of the 1950 Jeepster were produced, of which 4,066 were four-cylinder models and 1,779 were the six cylinder model. The Jeepster was still performing well below expectations.

Despite the 3-year production run (1948 – 1950), it was clear the Jeepster was never going to catch on with the general public and production was brought to an end. In all, just 19,131 units of the rugged SUV were made since its introduction in 1948.

According to the Jeep aficionados at Portland Chrysler Jeep, the Jeeps of today have come a long way since the Jeepster days and are among the most popular vehicles on the market. You probably know someone who owns one…

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Editorials

Who Will Negan Kill in The Walking Dead TV Show?

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Negan Walking Dead Comic

In what can be considered the biggest development in The Walking Dead in quite a while, Negan, an infamous villain in series lore, will make an appearance at the end of season 6 of the popular TV show, and we can’t to see what he has in store for Rick and the crew.

Personally, as a reader of the comics, I am both excited and terrified that a character notoriously known for killing one of the most beloved character in The Walking Dead expanded universe has a role to play. He’s a lot like Merle — ruthless, masochist and a racist — and makes even a sociopathic like ‘The Governor’ look tame!

As if the suspense surrounding Glenn’s fate at the end of episode 3 didn’t have fans talking enough, we must now wonder who Negan is going to kill and when. Readers of the comics know its Glenn, but will Robert Kirkman, along with the other producers, change things up to make the show less predictable? Most likely, considering that’s what they’ve been doing since the beginning.

Remember when The Governor killed Hershel in the middle of Season 4? Well, in the comics, it was cuddly ol’ Tyreese that fell to his wrath. Who is Negan going to kill on the silver screen? I predict it will be Maggie, Morgan or Tara.

Morgan, Walking Dead

It’s worth pointing out that, in the comics, Morgan didn’t last long and was not an important character. However, in the TV show, he’s a fully-realized badass that has undergone several transformations and received a full episode dedicated to his backstory. Now, it seems that whenever the producers give a supporting character ‘special attention’ (you know, like his own episode), it only means one thing: DEATH!

Maggie, Walking Dead

Moving on to the now-pregnant Maggie, she witnessed her husband, Glenn, die in The Walking Dead comics, leading many to believe it’s Glenn (assuming he’s still alive) whose life Negan takes. However, will it really be slippery survivor? I mean, will Kirkman allow a thing like that to happen to such a fan favorite? What if he switched Glen’s fate with Maggie’s in order to spice things up? I don’t think it’s a farfetched idea considering she’s handicapped by her pregnancy in a seemingly hopeless post-apocalyptic world. She’s a liability during pregnancy and will become even more of a liability after giving birth.

Tara, Walking Dead

Finally, we have Tara. She’s finally found a new love interest in Denise, Alexandria’s doctor, and had some of the spotlight shine on her in episode 5. Denise was Heath’s love interest in the comics, but Kirkman figured it would be better to pair her with Tara in the TV show. Now, why would he do that? Could it be that, like with Beth, he purposely gave her screen time to get us attached and then have her killed off in dramatic fashion? Plausible.

Considering all the speculation surrounding him, Negan couldn’t arrive in The Walking Dead soon enough. One big-time character is going to die because of him, but who will it be? Maybe Michonne, Abraham or even Carol? Share your predictions in the comments below.

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