I don’t just love reading niche automotive trivia for its own sake; I also like not always feeling like the biggest anorak in the room. Not in a bad way—my favorite people are some of the strangest you’ll meet, and some of you got on my Nice List for your answers to our question about the strangest automotive trivia you know. These are some of my favorite answers from the comments:
Apparently, the dude who invented cruise control was blind. No, seriously. (If you say the word “visionary,” I’m not going to stop someone from kicking your ass.)
The man who invented cruise control was blind
His name was Ralph Teetor, and he was inspired to invent cruise control by his lawyer, who was apparently a very poor driver. ~ John DeSimone
Honda, Miatas, and Vans
There’s no pithy way to combine these—it’s the automotive factoid equivalent of a peanut butter and onion sandwich. Which, apparently, is pretty good. I’ll have to give that a try later.
Soichiro Honda Honda once called GM’s bluff and built a set of CVCC heads for a 1973 350 Impala, which proceeded to have better emissions than the catalytic converters GM was going to use.
The original Mariner blue from the Miata was a direct sample from a CA license plate of the time.
The 4th gen Econoline (1992-∞) was a refresh of the 1975-1991 model. It has had one facelift for 2008. It’s had 3 interiors and even more steering wheels. Most importantly, it’s had the 460/300i6, 3.8/5.4/6.8 V10, 6.2 Boss, and now 7.3 Godzilla as engines. That’s four engine generations in one body style, although with the cutaway only being offered since 2015. ~ Alec Weinstein
A Toyota V6 wasn’t the only repurposed Japanese car part in the Lotus Evora. Apparently, they also used Honda Accord steering racks, though Lotus owners disagree over which model exactly it comes from.
The LHD steering rack for the Lotus Evora is from a RHD Honda Accord. ~ wezelboy
Someone Buy This Man a Drink
Alec, buddy, give other people a chance to share something. Or don’t, I don’t think anyone minds when you take the stage. I would like to add, though, that the Pontiac Vibe could fit a TRD supercharger—yes, that TRD.
The Aerostar AWD had a recall, because its aluminum driveshaft was too thin and failed. Turns out it’s nearly a perfect drop in to a Foxbody with only a U joint change and could possibly be the Ford Racing part sold separately.
GM Part 22649423. Google it.
The Pontiac Vibe is a joint project between Toyota and GM, based on the Matrix. Because of the GM influence, Toyota realized the odometer can stop at 299,999 miles. Somehow, enough have made it for people to learn this.
The Chevy Monza was not only the first Chevy to run square sealed beams, but also had a torque arm 7 years before the 3rd gen Camaro got one. The REALLY interesting bit is, when the GM rotary was yoinked at the last second and the 262ci SBC (smallest ever) wasn’t ready to pass CARB, about 3500 California cars got a 350. It was rated at 125 hp, but was identical to the 145hp motor in larger cars. They only weigh about 3000 lbs, so in the mid-70s it was a rocket. Since the 3rd gen Camaro only got a 350 for 1987 (iirc), this was a peek 12 years into the future.
A Volvo 760 Turbo twin cam head drops nearly perfectly onto a Ford Lima 2.3, and a BMW K-series motorcycle head fits the BMC A-series. ~ Alec Weinstein
Ford Modeled Some T
A transverse-mounted inline-eight powering the rear wheels sounds like a dream involving the Cizeta-Moroder V16T after smoking blue lotus flower. Or, just an experimental Ford Tempo—you just gotta wonder what this sounded like.
Ford made an entirely new powertrain system called T-Drive. It was an Inline, DOHC engine that could be up to 8 cylinders and sent its power through a RWD transmission, though it was mounted transverse, thus why it earned the name T-Drive. ~ JohnTaurus
Audi’s famous 5 Cylinder Turbo engine used a stout cast iron block in the road cars, and aluminum blocks in some of the Rally Cars. There were also a small amount of Magnesium blocks used in the Group B cars. Last I’ve heard of the magnesium blocks, one fell into the hands of a members of one of the Quattro forums.
Early rally cars had 10V heads, eventually moving up to 20V heads (also homologated into the Sport Quattro road car). Audi also experimented with a 25V head for the 5000 Quattro Talladega car, not much is known about the head on that engine. ~ Steve Kujala
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