The amazing (stolen) underground car
From our original story, written way back in 1978:
It was about a week ago that Sgts. Joe Sabas and Lenny Carroll of the Lennox sheriff’s substation were flagged down by some children outside a house at 1137 W. 119th St.
The youngsters had been playing in the backyard of the home, digging in the mud, when they found something unusual just below the surface. They told Sabas and Carroll it felt like the roof of a car.
On Tuesday, the two detectives, aided by a skip-loader and some helpers with shovels, returned to the home and found out just how unusual their discovery was.
What the men uncovered was a green, 1974 Ferrari–a car worth at least $18,000 new.
Photo: Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times archive
Aerial view, published Jan. 13, 1969, of rows of Volkswagen Beetles and Vanagon vans at Terminal Island.
Credit: Los Angeles Times / UCLA Library
In case you’re in need of some symmetrical orderliness.
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Five hundred feet below a hairpin turn on the Mullholland Highway in the hills above Los Angeles, there’s a car graveyard.
Los Angeles photographer Jason Knight discovered the rusted hulks of cars that fell from the highway decades ago on the floor of Laurel Canyon and documented the remains.
Learn more about the fateful history of the cars on KPCC’s AudioVision.
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Cal Worthington and his “dog Spot” in 1974. The Southern California legend of car sales died Sunday at 92.
When Worthington prepared to make his TV debut, he conceived an ad that teased his rivals while also poking fun at himself. But instead of man’s best friend, he chose a gorilla, which appeared on camera acting very undog-like while chained to the bumper of a car.
"Speak, Spot," Worthington told the beast. The gorilla roared, the audience howled. And "business about tripled" after the commercials began airing, he said.
Worthington “was a marketing and advertising genius,” said marketing consultant and teacher Larry Londre, who grew up in Los Angeles appreciating the circus flair of the commercials. “He created what you would call a unique selling proposition. Instead of selling cars he sold a personality.”
The Times obituary by Martin Miller and Elaine Woo has many more colorful stories, a photo gallery and a video that includes clips of Worthington’s famous commercials.
(Photo: Cal Worthington in a TV studio on Jan. 29, 1974. Credit: Marianna Diamos / Los Angeles Times file)
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The bizarre Arrowhead ‘teardrop’-mobile
Recently found in the Times’ photo archives, this shot from 1936 showing a weird-looking car that promotes Arrowhead Spring Water prompted an inquiry into what its deal is.
As it turns out, the vehicle was a part of a widespread trend of product-shaped vehicles that emerged in the 1930s to try and increase consumer awareness and boost waning sales (a la the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile).
Read more on the campaigns via an informative piece from Hemmings.
Photo: J.H. McCrory / Los Angeles Times
California drivers - consider yourselves warned
A appellate court in the state has ruled that it’s illegal to do anything with your phone while driving. So that’s not just a ban on texting or talking - that’s a ban on looking at texts, reading emails, flinging just one more Angry Bird, etc.
From Judge W. Kent Hamlin:
“Our review of the statute’s plain language leads us to conclude that the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction the driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone. That distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock or a device for sending and receiving text messages and emails.”
Read more from columnist Robin Abcarian.
Photo: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times
The center of the hot rod universe
Pomona, home to the highest-profile hot rod races and shows in the world, boasts a culture of speed like no other. It’s not about haphazzard late night drag racing, but the display of well-honed hot rods, some costing up to hundreds of thousands of dollars to build.
It’s the engine that drives not just those who drive over to the city for events like the National Roadster Show, but the local economy, with an estimated 3,600 jobs depending on the continuation of hot rod traditions.
Read more on Pomona, and one team’s struggle to get a restructured 1932 Ford back up and running, here.
Photos: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
If you thought your boss was harsh: Check out what tire magnate Maurice “Morry” Taylor Jr. of Titan International said about French workers, when asked by the French government to take over a tire production plant about to be shut down.
Sir, your letter suggests you would like to open discussions with Titan. How stupid do you think we are? Titan has money and the know-how to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government.
The French workers are paid high wages but only work three hours. They have one hour for their lunch, they talk for three hours and they work for three hours. I told this to their union leaders directly; they replied, that is the way it is in France.
Photo: Philippe Huguen / AFP/Getty Images
"Did you know that road rage is the leading cause of death among enormous douchebags?" Thanks, GOOD!
I always wondered why it was so difficult for drivers to just pay attention and not be assholes. Then I moved to Los Angeles and got a car. Here, we do not operate our vehicles so much as we hang out in them. Hunkered in my sedan, I’m now comfortable juggling an iced coffee and the radio dial while “courtesy” honking the car in front of me. Only when I jump back on my bicycle do I become a little bit scared about the person that I become when I’m behind the wheel.
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The Crown Vic is dead; long live the Crown Vic: The iconic cop cars no longer roll off production lines, and eventually will pass into legend. But the ultimate grandma car — affordable, reliable and fast — now inspires driver fan clubs.
Car thieves are less likely to mess with Crown Vics but some people will spit on your car, or even vandalize it, McKenery said. Police officers are also split: Some are happy the cars are still on the road but others pull drivers over and hassle them over their cop equipment.
For every online ode to the Crown Vic, there’s a comment like this on another car forum:
"It just … tickles me that there’s a group about an ex-police vehicle modified for almost the exact opposite type of drivers and purposes."
Photo: David McKenery with his Crown Victoria in Santa Fe Springs. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times
An oil change every 3,000 miles? California officials say it’s a waste. Nationally 51% of vehicle owners said they believe oil should be changed every 3,000 miles or three months, according to an NPD Group survey. Few manufacturers require such an aggressive maintenance schedule. The state hopes to break car owners’ habit of changing oil too often.
Photo: An auto mechanic in Beecher, Ill. Credit: John Zich / Bloomberg News
Porsche to build driving center in Carson: The facility, only the second in the country and the fifth in the world, will sit on a 53-acre section of land just off the 405 Freeway near the interchange with the 110 Freeway.
Image: Artist’s concept of the proposed Porsche Experience Center. The 405 freeway is to the left of the site. Credit: Porsche
The Autoexotics motor show in Moscow displays a Soviet-made Tavria car converted into a plane. It takes off at 59 mph and can fly up to 10 feet from the ground. See more of today’s Pictures in the News photo series on Framework.
Photo: Creator Valery Bulgakov, right, a former pilot, said the craft could be used for takeoff and landing training. Credit: Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP/Getty Images
In Soviet Russia, _____________________________ …?