StiffSpeed Exotic Cars

Sunday, 29 March 2009

VIP Style

VIP Style refers to the modification of Japanese luxury automobiles to make them more fashionable and even more luxurious. VIP Style are typically large, expensive, rear-wheel drive sedans, though automotive enthusiasts use other cars like minivans and Kei cars. Once associated with the yakuza, VIP Style modifications now are a subset of automotive modification.

Cars associated with VIP Style usually have common characteristics; usually large diameter rims (usually broad faced designs) with low offsets that sit flush with the fender, exhausts that stick out past the rear bumper (although not so much emphasized these days), a full bodykit or lip kit, glossy paint and a lowered ride height (usually with coilovers in USA or air ride in the Australia). In Japan, cars use primarily gas. It is not uncommon to see extreme negative camber on many vip cars. Traditional colors of VIP Style cars are usually black, white, grey and silver (although more recently almost any color goes as long as the style characteristics stay true).

Most VIP Styled cars are Japanese luxury cars such as the Nissan President, Nissan Cima, Nissan Cedric, Nissan Gloria, Nissan Fuga, the Toyota Celsior, Toyota Century, Toyota Crown , Toyota Majesta and the Toyota Aristo, many high end flag-ship European cars are also known to be modified in such ways (most of them German luxury sedans such as the Mercedes S-Class and the Jaguar XJ sedans from the UK).

As automotive enthusiasts began to do their own versions of VIP, everything from minivans like the Toyota Estima and Honda Odyssey, to keicars like the Suzuki Cappucino and Toyota bB have received similar modifications.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Limousines, Limo's

A limousine or limo is a luxury sedan or saloon car, especially one with a lengthened wheelbase or driven by a chauffeur. The chassis of a limousine may have been extended by the manufacturer or by an independent coach builder. These are referred to as "stretch" limousines. Limousines are often driven by chauffeurs and until the mid-1990s were most often associated with the wealthy. They are also used for special occasions such as weddings, parties and sight-seeing tours.

Most stretch limousines operate as livery vehicles, providing upmarket competition to taxicabs. Most builders of stretch limousines are located in the United States and Europe and cater mainly to limousine companies. Few stretch limousines are sold to private individuals. In addition to luxuries, security features such as armoring and bulletproof glass are available.

The first “stretch limousine” was created in Fort Smith, Arkansas around 1928 by a coach company named Armbruster. These cars were primarily used to transport famous “big band” leaders, such as Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, and their bands and equipment. These early stretch limousines were often called “big band buses”.

Sometimes an "inappropriate" vehicle is converted, simply for the novelty. Hummer vehicles have been converted. Another novelty conversion is the East German Trabant which was designed for a low manufacturing cost and incorporated body panels made from a rag fiber and plastic resin material. Volkswagen Beetles and Citroen 2CV vehicles are occasionally stretched into limousines.


Perhaps owing to the morbid nature of the hearse, its luxurious accommodations for the driver, or both, the hearse has a number of enthusiasts who own and drive retired hearses. There are several hearse clubs.

Amongst enthusiasts, the 1959 Cadillac Miller Meteor hearse is considered one of the most desirable due to its especially ornate styling and appearances in feature films, notably the Ecto-1 in the Ghostbusters. The famed Harold and Maude car was a 1959 Cadillac Superior hearse. People who make hearses include; Coleman Milne, Binz, Duffy and Fearghas Quinn of Ireland. They are based on Mercedes and GM Vauxhall/Opel.

Celebrity hearse enthusiasts include rock singer Neil Young and two-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Tony Stewart, who had his hearse customised for a television show. Sam the Sham of the Pharaohs (known for Wooly Bully and Lil' Red Riding Hood) was known for transporting all his equipment in a 1952 Packard hearse

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Monster Trucks

A monster truck is an automobile, typically styled after pickup trucks, modified or purposely built with extremely large wheels and suspension. They are used for competition and popular Sports Entertainment and in some cases they are featured alongside Motocross races, mud bogging, tractor pulls and car-eating robots. They are most popular in the United States.

Usually, a monster truck show involves the truck crushing smaller vehicles beneath its huge tires. These trucks can run up and over most man-made barriers, so they are equipped with remote shut-off switches, called the Remote Ignition Interuptor (RII), to help prevent an accident if the driver loses control at any time. At some events, only one truck is on the course at a time, while most feature two drivers racing each other on symmetrical tracks, with the losing driver eliminated in single-elimination tournament fashion.

In recent years, many monster truck competitions have ended with a "freestyle" event. Somewhat akin to figure skating with giant trucks, drivers are free to select their own course around the track and its obstacles. Drivers will often try 'Donuts', wheelstands and jumps during this segment. Additional items for the drivers to crush - usually including a motor home - are frequently placed on the track specifically for the freestyle event. Other obstacles sometimes placed on the track include school buses and small airplanes.

Sandrail, Sand Rail

A sandrail is a lightweight motor vehicle specifically built for traveling across sandy terrain. It's most popular to operate a Sandrail in actual sand dunes, like Glamis, Pismo and Rasor in California, St. Anthony Dunes in Idaho, or Little Sahara in Utah. Sand dunes are located in all parts of the world and across the US. Sandrails are typically light weight cars that use high flotation tires, allowing the car to skim over the surface of the sand without getting stuck. A sandrail has a low center of gravity which permits it to turn even on the face of a sand dune. Many types of off-road vehicles are relatively top heavy and can only safely climb or descend steep hills with a mostly perpendicular approach to inclines or downhills.

Sandrails are built from a tubular space frame chassis that incorporates an integrated roll cage. There are usually no windows, doors, fenders, or body panels. The engine is typically at the rear or mid-engine mounted. Lightweight and air cooled engines like Volkswagen engine from the VW Beetle, early air cooled engines from cars such as Porsches or the Chevrolet Corvair were originally used, but many of the new high dollar models now feature water cooled engines such as those found in most vehicles on the road today.

The front tires are sometimes narrow to allow them to dig into the sand while turning, other designs with better weight distribution (using lighter motors such as Subaru) can use wider farm implement tires up front to gain more flotation and minimize the sand thrown into the laps of the occupants when turning. Sandrails often use large rear "sandtires" (to provide traction and flotation) that incorporate rubber paddles. Sandrails are almost always rear-wheel drive.

The vast majority of the cars use a manual transmission, although automatic transmissions are used as well. The downside to an automatic is typically reliability since they have limitations on the force it can handle. The most popular configuration will seat four adults and have around 400 hp (300 kW), weighing around 2,000 lb (910 kg) empty. Jumping two to four ft (0.6-1.2 m) off the ground is common play seen at most duning events, with some exceeding heights of ten feet.

Art Cars

An important aspect of art cars and car artists is the general belief that there are no standards. Ideally, there are no super stars nor is any car better than any other. Art cars are unique in that no art car is a "bad" or "wrong" art car. There is more of a sense of inclusion than in other car groups which focus on standards, specific historic periods or makes and models of car.

Most car artists are ordinary people with no artistic training. They are largely self taught and self funded, though some mainstream trained artists have also worked in the art car medium. Some consider their art to be created as a source of income or as "professional" artworks. Most others agree that creating and driving an art car daily is its own reward. Well known artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol etc. have designed BMW Art Cars and their work has been reflected in racing cars like the BMW V12 LMR.

Art cars can be driven as daily drivers. Others are hauled around the country on trailers and have never driven anywhere but within art car shows. Others are found everywhere from the local grocery store, to formal museums to organized shows. Some are predominantly functional whereas others are considered primarily art works. Some car artists would never rent their car out while others build cars to make money.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Rat Rods

Originally a counter-reaction to the traditional hot rod, a label recently applied to undriven cars and super high priced "customs". The rat rod's beginning was a throwback to the hot rods of the earlier days of hot-rodding, built to the best of the owner's abilities and meant to be driven. Rat rods are meant to loosely imitate in form and function, the "traditional" hot rods of the era.

The typical rat rod often have their fenders, hoods, running boards, and bumpers removed. The bodies are frequently channeled over the frame, and sectioned, or the roofs chopped for a lower profile. Later post-war vehicles are rarely constructed without fenders and are often customized in the fashion of Kustoms, leadsleds, and lowriders. Maltese crosses, skulls, and other accessories are often added. Chopped tops, shaved trim, grills, tail lights, and other miscellaneous body parts are swapped between makes and models. Most, if not all of the work and engineering is done by the owner of the vehicle.

Recently, the term "rat rod" has been used to describe almost any vehicle that appears unfinished or is built simply to be driven.

As with many cultural terms, there are disputes over the origin of the term "rat rod". Some say it first appeared in an article written in Hot Rod Magazine by Gray Baskerville about cars that still sported a coat of primer. Some claim that the first rat rod was owned by artist Robert Williams who had a '32 Ford Roadster that was painted in primer. Although the term likely started out as derogatory or pejorative (and is still used in this way by many), members of the subcultures that build and enjoy these cars have adopted the term in a positive light.