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1966 Batmobile - Auto News and Events

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Photography by Courtesy Of The NHRA

Stretching out 33 feet long, standing nearly 12 feet tall and weighing in at over 27,000 pounds, the Futurliner relies on a 302ci GMC straight-six producing 145 hp to keep it moving. Slow? Agonizingly so, we assume. But the Futurliner was a startling piece of design at a time when many commercial vehicles were hardly styled at all.

This particular Futurliner was built in 1953 and is owned by the National Automotive and Truck Museum in Auburn, Indiana, where Don Mayton, a retired GM plant manager found it in deteriorating condition. In 1999 Mayton organized the reconstruction of the Futurliner by enlisting help from his own small network of restoration experts along with some help from GM to do such intricate tasks as rebuilding the archaic transmission. He also accumulated some volunteers who just happened to surf into the project's Web site at www.futurliner.com.

After exhibition at Eyes On Design, the Futurliner will eventually make its way back to its home in Auburn. However, the restoration crew is looking for a display to fill the bus, and who knows what kind of tour that might inspire?

So-Cal Gets Tanked-Again
Photos by Ron Read/SO-CAL Speed ShopIn the history of speed-record runs on the dry lakebeds of California and Utah, no car is more honored or famed than the SoCal Speed Shop's belly tank. Built during 1948 from two bottom halves of war-surplus belly tanks for the P-38 Lightning fighter, the tank was powered by a Ford V8-60 flathead and set a record of 195.77 mph for a Class C Lakester and had a best one way run of 198.34 mph with Alex Xydias behind the wheel in 1952. Both SoCal and the 82-year-old Xydias are still around (so is the original tank for that matter-in a museum) and SoCal Speed Shop is putting together a new tank for the 21st century.

The new tank is being built at the urging of Mark Reuss, the Executive Director of GM Performance Division and Frank Saucedo, the Director of GM's West Coast advanced design studio as a showcase for the 2.0L, DOHC supercharged GM Performance Parts Ecotec four-the engine that's being installed in the Saturn Ion Red Line coupe.

"We're pulling people together from all over the corporation to leverage the best talent and the best ideas," said Reuss. "We're also utilizing SoCal as a center of expertise, learning from its rich racing history. This is a classic grass-roots effort in the spirit of the original Bonneville racers."

With the 200hp Ecotec mounted transversely in the back, the ultimate goal is to push the new tank past 200 mph. And this new racer, instead of being built from an actual fuel tank, will instead by constructed around a red carbon-fiber tub. "There'll be plenty of other techno tricks in this car, and it will look very cool," commented project leader David Bolognino. "However, our goal is to go fast, and to that end we have to meet a lot of stringent regulations."

SoCal is on the Web at www.so-calspeedshop.com.

Yeah, But Can He Design a Good Cylinder Head?[Photos 116-0311.SCUP 9A through 9B on disc]To celebrate his 700th Winston Cup start at July's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono, driver Ricky Rudd had his 8-year-old son Landon design the paint job on his Taurus for that race. Of course die-cast versions of this one-race-only car are already available on NASCAR's Web site.

But what did his kid's paint job do for the elder Rudd on the track? He started 27th and went out with a blown motor on lap 121. Oh well, at least he looked good for a while.

Yet Another Centennial
For the entire century that Ford has been building cars, it's been buying tires from BFGoodrich. In celebration of that very long, mutually beneficial relationship, here's Bill Ford, Chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Company in a completely candid and comfortable photo with Bob Carroll, International VP, Michelin Group, the parent company of BFG.

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