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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jul 1, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

GMC Yukon, sans Lohan NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING LINDSAY LOHAN AND GM SUVs Remember the OJ Simpson white Ford Bronco chase on the freeways of Los Angeles? The sale of Broncos (particular white ones) reportedly went through the roof immediately thereafter. Some automotive insiders think General Motors might similarly benefit from the recent incident involving Lindsay Lohan chasing the mother of her former assistant in a GMC Yukon. The mother was driving a Cadillac Escalade. In its column called (appropriately enough) Auto Insider, The Detroit News says the publicity was tantamount to high-profile product placement. "Car companies regularly pay millions to have their vehicles showcased in blockbuster movies, on music videos and with hot stars behind the wheel," says TDN. "And GM didn't have to pay a penny for the attention." Of course, the OJ Bronco incident occurred right in the middle of the National Basketball Association finals, and the chase was seen by millions of viewers for several minutes. All we got from the Lindsay Lohan car chase was her mug shot. On the other hand, the fact that the public now knows that Lindsay drove a GMC Yukon (and not something more predictable for a Hollywood star, like a Bentley) has to be good public relations for General Motors. It's the best free PR for an automotive company...since Al Gore III got busted for taking his Toyota Prius to 100 mph. Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING 80 PERCENT HAVE CHANGED DUE TO RISING GAS COSTS Poll Finds That 80 Percent of U.S. Adults Have Made Changes to Their Lifestyles Due to Rising Gas Costs (BUSINESS WIRE)##Rising gas costs continue to be a controversial issue all across the United States and the impact is felt by many adults. Eight in 10 U.S. adults say they have made changes to their lifestyles due to rising gas costs, with nearly six in 10 minimizing non-critical travel, 40 percent adjusting their spending habits and 32 percent putting a hold on leisure road-trip travel. Females are more likely to have made changes to their lifestyle due to the rising cost of gas (84 percent vs. 75 percent for men) and are more likely to have minimized non-critical travel (61 percent vs. 56 percent) and adjusted their spending habits (44 percent vs. 37 percent). Older adults (those ages 45 to 54 and 55 and over) are more likely to minimize non-critical travel (65 percent and 64 percent respectively vs. 50 percent of 18 to 34).Younger respondents (ages 18 to 34) are more likely to have driven further to find cheaper gas (15 perccent vs. 9 percent for 55 and over) and participated in a car pool (13 percent vs. 5 percent for 55 and over). These are just some of the results of an online survey of 2,057 U.S. adults ages 18 and over conducted by Harris Interactive® between June 19 and 21, 2007 for The Wall Street Journal Online. Alternatives To Energy Consumption: Fuels and Hybrid Car Purchases The vast majority of adults (94 percent) believe it is important to reduce the energy consumption from automobile use. Nearly eight out of 10 consider it important to encourage the development and use of alternative fuels and almost three-quarters believe it is important to increase the fuel efficiency standards on all vehicles. Women are more likely to consider it important to reduce consumption from automobile use (96% vs. 91% for men), develop communities that are more conducive to walking/biking (45 percent vs. 31 percent), encourage car pooling (47 percent vs. 37 percent) or the development/use of alternative fuels (82 percent vs. 75 percent) and increase fuel efficiency standards (76 percent vs. 69 percent). Those ages 35 to 44 are most likely to consider it important to develop and use alternative fuels (83 percent), while respondents 18 to 34 are least likely (73 percent) to say this or even to consider it important to increase fuel efficiency standards on vehicles (69 percent). This could be due to a fear that the cost of automobiles will rise as the costs of conserving energy are passed on. Among those who intend to purchase or lease a new vehicle, forty-nine percent would consider a hybrid vehicle. Respondents ages 18 to 34 who also intend to purchase/lease are significantly more likely (31 percent) to consider a gasoline-fueled vehicle than older respondents 45 to 54 and 55 and over (24 percent and 25 percent respectively). Respondents in the lowest income group, less than $35K, and in the highest income group, more than $75K, all of whom are planning to purchase/lease are less likely to consider a gas-fueled vehicle (21 percent and 25 percent respectively) compared to respondents who earn $35K-$49.9K (34 percent). The Government's Role Female respondents are more likely to believe the government has a responsibility to engage in energy conservation. In particular, over nine in 10 females believe the government should encourage greater fuel efficiency (compared to 84 percent of males) and 83 percent of females believe the government should mandate higher fuel standards (compared to 75 percent of males). Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor

VW Polo BlueMotion

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING HARRY POTTER WANTS A POLO OR PRIUS Will success spoil Harry Potter? We will soon find out, as Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe, turns 18 and gains access to a £23 million birthday windfall. "Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has an extra reason for celebrating his 18th birthday...he finally gets to lay his hands on the cool £23 million the hit movie franchise has earned him so far," says Cher Tippetts of Entertainmentwise. "Sensible Daniel has vowed to give the flash cars, fast girls and boozy lifestyle a miss in favour of an environmentally-friendly car and some CDs." "If I do buy a car, I'd like a Polo. They're efficient and nobody looks at them, said Radcliffe. ""Or I would like an environmentally-friendly Toyota Prius. They seem like a good idea." Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING STUDY SAYS COMMUTER TRAFFIC REDUCES STRESS ATLANTA STUDY FINDS COMMUTING HAS CALMING EFFECT ON MANY Commuting to and from work is supposed to cause drivers stress, but a researcher at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta has found that for many people, the daily commute has a calming effect on them. Jennifer Hughes, Agnes Scott associate professor of psychology, is one of a handful of researchers studying commuter stress. Her most recent study involved measuring cortisol levels in saliva of commuters in Atlanta, where the average commute is the longest in the nation. Hughes admits the results were a surprise. "There is very little research on commuter stress," she says, "but what there is generally has concluded that commuting is a stressful routine. What we found was that commuters are less physiologically stressed after their commutes than before their commutes. This could mean that commutes are calming and could be helping commuters prepare for their workday." Salivary cortisol was selected to assess physiological stress in Hughes' study because it has been found to be a reliable indicator of physiological stress. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland. Receptors for cortisol can be found throughout the brain and cortisol is involved in memory, learning, and emotion. A dozen staff members at Agnes Scott participated in the study. They provided a diverse sample in terms of age, ethnic background, and gender. Their salivary cortisol was measured in the morning because the samples could be collected on campus and cortisol is found to be highest in the early morning hours and lowest in the evening. Saliva was collected before, immediately after and one hour after the commute. The study participants also completed a daily survey of the commute. During the weekend after the workweek, participants were asked to not drive and to provide three more samples of saliva. To examine the physiological and psychology stress of the commuters, the four days of cortisol samples during the pre-commute, post-commute, and 30-minute post commute and weekend baseline data were compared. Cortisol levels did not significantly differ according to day of the week. In fact, the commuters had similar cortisol levels on the days they did not commute as when they commuted during the week. Only one participant felt that her commute was a major stressor. Three participants reported that their commutes were somewhat of a stressor and eight of the participants felt that their commutes were either not stressful or a minor stressor. Hughes says most of the research on commuting has focused on the negative reactions of commuters to their commutes as a result of commute stress, which include anxiety, irritability, depression, mood swings, frustration, anger, sleep problems, heart problems, backaches, stomach aches, headaches, illnesses, and fatigue. But she says such studies focus too much on the negative, and do not assess commuters during or right after their daily commutes. "It is possible that some people are very stressed by their commutes, while others are not," says Hughes. "Or some commuters could experience stress but only some of the time. Some commuters even enjoy commuting and report that their commute gives them valuable private time or a way for them to mentally prepare for the day or unwind after a workday." Hughes plans further research that will incorporate larger sample sizes and commutes with greater varying stress levels. Although her study is preliminary, she says the methodology was sound, provides longitudinal data and should influence researchers to consider that not all commutes are considered to be negative. She also wants to sample commuters who are greatly stressed, because it could be that only very stressful commutes produce peaks in cortisol levels. Among Hughes' other studies, she published her work on the relationship between commuter stress and flextime work hours in the Journal of Business and Psychology. In that study, Hughes found that commuters with flexible starting and quitting times at work felt less stress about their commute while driving and about the time it takes to commute to and from the job. Nine out of 10 Americans drive alone to and from work, and time spent commuting has tripled over the past two decades. In 2001, traffic delays cost Americans 5.7 billion person hours and $65 billion in lost wages and wasted fuel. Commuting headaches have reached epidemic levels in some U.S. cities, like metropolitan Atlanta. Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor

STOKES: BACK SEAT DRIVING BURBANK'S AUTOBOOKS-AEROBOOKS STILL THE ONE UNIQUE BOOKSTORE CHANGES HANDS, BUT NOT STYLE "It's more like a passing of the torch than a change of ownership" said Chet Knox, the veteran proprietor of Autobooks-Aerobooks, a unique bookstore that's been located in Burbank since 1951. "You really don't own Autobooks-Aerobooks, it owns you." The husband and wife team of Chuck Forward and Tina Van Curen assumed ownership on July 8th. "We are very proud to become the new owners of this unique bookstore, and our plans are to continue doing the things that have made Autobooks not only an institution but a destination for enthusiasts from all over the world" said Van Curen. "We've been fans as well as customers of this place for many years now, and when Chet decided that it was time to 'hang 'em up', we decided that we'd love the challenge. It was perfect timing." Van Curen is a former president of the Alfa Romeo Club and raced in VARA with a bright yellow Alfa spider. She grew up in the car culture as her dad built his first hot rod when he was 10 and sponsored stock cars at Ascot in the 60's. Chuck is an aerospace engineer, a member of SAE for 22 years and had a decade of experience as president of the Citroen Car Club. A son of a Navy pilot, his knowledge of aircraft and aviation history will bolster the Aerobooks side of the business. Knox, who just turned "double 40" (80) in April has owned the store for six years, "I was the store's best customer, and then I bought the place. It's been great fun, and a lot of work. I could not be leaving the place in more capable hands; Tina and Chuck are great people, they're hard working, and well-known on the local car scene. They'll continue the tradition of this place very well." Autobooks-Aerobooks is said to be the oldest and largest auto-aero specialty bookstore in the known world. Some might go as far as to say that it's the only auto-aero bookstore on the planet. We're not quite sure of that, but what we are sure of is the legendary status of place and the quality of the people who drive blocks, miles, across counties, states, and fly continents just to shop here. It's not a huge store, but the selection (if you're into cars, motorcycles, or airplanes) surely is. The staff is knowledgeable and the customers are even more so. No one is ever afraid to strike up a conversation about "the subject" (whatever it is, so long as it has a motor) at Autobooks-Aerobooks. And the person standing in the next isle is very likely to be not only knowledgeable on the subject, but an expert practitioner. They might be the person who wrote the book, or built the machine, or actually drove it in the race. That's the way it is, and that's the way it has been at Autobooks-Aerobooks every day since Harry Morrow opened the original shop just eight blocks down the street way back in 1951. If you've never been: You're invited ... If you haven't been lately: You're overdue for a visit. You never need a reason (save your excitement about cars, bikes, and airplanes) to drop by, and you're always a welcome guest before you're a customer. - Doug Stokes Autobooks-Aerobooks is located at 3524 West Magnolia Blvd. in the "Magnolia Park" area of Burbank. One block East of Hollywood Way, the store has ample free parking and is open Tuesday - Saturday from 10am to 6pm with a unique open-to-all "Coffee and Portos' Cruise-In" every Saturday morning from 8 to 10am. Guest Authors, Car Clubs, and other attractions abound on many Saturdays, but there's a buzz in the air (about our favorite subjects, natch) every day of the week. Check out the store's website: for a quick "tour" and a look at what's happening this Saturday at the shop! Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING AL GORE III SHATTERS PRIUS MYTH While his father is well known for bringing public awareness to the issue of global warming, Al Gore III used Interstate Highway 5 in The OC's Laguna Niguel to shatter a long held myth about hybrid economy cars. More specifically, he took a Toyota Prius and brought it up to 100 miles per hour. The results were verified by the Orange County Sheriff's Department. After notifying Gore that he did indeed shatter the myth about hybrids (and, in particular, Priuses) being slugs, Sheriff deputies allegedly found evidence that the effort may have been fortified by cannabis and certain prescription drugs. The ensuing arrest was an unfortunate sacrifice to this consciousness-raising event. However, the truth is now out: The Prius can do 100. Take that, hybrid nay-sayers. Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor

NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING GM DEEP-SIXES THE CADILLAC SIXTEEN In a move that will probably please both environmentalists and the corporation's financial heads, General Motors has decided to terminate the effort to bring the Cadillac Sixteen into production. In GM's own Fast Lane blog, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz made the announcement. "In an era of 36 miles per gallon by 2017 and four percent a year after that, we come out with a 16 cylinder, 1,000 horsepower car - which even with a hybrid system could get about 13 miles per gallon - I'm afraid from a public image standpoint it would display of lack of sensitivity to environmental concerns," said Lutz. "I think a Cadillac Sixteen at this point - as much as we all love the car - probably would not be an extremely prudent thing to do." Lutz also announced that GM will not move forward with production versions of the Buick Velite sports car, although GM has indicated that many of the styling cues will show up on other Buick production vehicles. As for what lies in Cadillac's future, Lutz said "we probably need to talk about vehicles smaller than the current CTS." Some gearheads may be disappointed, but Cadillac needs the Sixteen like it needs a hole in the head. It was an interesting concept car, but not a particularly attractive one. Had the Sixteen made it into production, it would have certainly become an icon for wretched excess and what's wrong with Detroit car companies. GM made the right move. In the meantime, one concept car that will certainly make it into production is the new Camaro. You can get up close and personal with the new Camaro at your nearest Rev It Up event. Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor


LA Car

That was LA Car's subtitle when it started back in 1997. It's original website address was about five times the size of Since then, La Car became LA Car. Its subtitle became Reporting From Car Culture Ground Zero, then From The Heart of Car Culture, to today's The Cars and Culture of Southern California. At all times, however, we aimed to chronicle the Southland's automotive spirit - much like one's own journal or diary. LA Car has always been a great source to come back to from week-to-week, to see what articles and reviews have been added to our rather staggering database. With Back Seat Driving, a.k.a. BSD (note the similarity to two well-worn abbreviations, BS and BFD) and Live Wires - Hot & Tender News From the Car Culture (co-located with Back Seat Driving, and updated at least daily), we give you some reasons to come back more often (all opinions, by the way, are those of the respective author). So, go ahead and bookmark We'll be sure to always provide a link to Live Wires and the latest Back Seat Driving blog entry. In the meantime, welcome to the journal and journey from the heart of the car culture. - Roy Nakano

For past Blog entries, click the following: June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006 July 2006 June 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 October 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 May 2005 April 2005 March 2005 February 2005 January 2005 December 2004 November 2004 October 2004 September 2004 August 2004 July 2004 June 2004 May 2004 April 2004

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