Sunny Breaks salutes: The Stout Scarab

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/8839778438/” title=”scarab by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5349/8839778438_72a4dd6c37.jpg” width=”500″ height=”295″ alt=”scarab”></a>

There was actually a drivable version of this in <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.A._Noire”>LA Noire</a> but it never occurred to me that it was a real car until I recently read an article about great cars that died an early death. It’s worth reading the whole wiki <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stout_Scarab”>article</a> about it because there’s so many amazing things about the design that I won’t rewrite them all here. In 1935 it must’ve looked like what a UFO floating past would look like to us today. I’m really surprised no one has tried to revive this design in some way.

Other stuff that’s fallen by the wayside:

1. I love stumbling across websites like this -> <a href=”http://www.drive-insdownunder.com.au/default.htm”>Drive-ins Down Under</a>. Someone has narrowed their focus to one thing and spent a long time researching and digging up info on it. Very interesting.

2. Ford. I guess I wasn’t under any allusions that ford was anything other than an american company that made cars here but it is disappointing to see them shutting down completely here in geelong, essentially because they couldn’t give a fuck. The last innovation they came up with was the factory mass-production line back in the 1920s and since then it’s just been about keeping the status quo. Maybe if they’d started repositioning australian production 20 years ago into the smaller, more affordable/efficient car sector then maybe it’d be a different story.

Kia Ray

I’ve been seeing these on the road for a while now and was wanting to get a closer look. Sometimes we like to go visit car showrooms and pretend to be interested in buying. Unfortunately the salesmen need to work on their manners, but I’m not whinging here – this is about the Ray.

My first impression is that it looked like Hyundai had captured a Nissan Cube and a Nissan March/Micra, interbred them and raised the offspring on kimchi. Which is to say, it’s a slightly malnourished rip-off of the Cube; the wheels are noticeably smaller, it’s smaller inside and I’ll be the engine is smaller.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/7237599010/” title=”Untitled by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7231/7237599010_cb16cd63ed.jpg” width=”500″ height=”374″ alt=”Untitled”></a>

And yet, the inside room of the Ray is surprisingly good. It breaks through that thinking that if you want a small car (ie. small engine = small fuel bill) then you’re going to be cramped, if not in the front seats, then definitely in the back. The Ray’s front and back seats are both super-roomy. Big windows, and even the driver’s position is really upright and at a good elevation. The generalisation is that there’s a bunch of ‘soccer mums’ who get 4WDs because they want to be able to see out properly and not feel monstered by other 4WDs on the road — maybe the Ray will address this because of the car’s overall height.

I don’t know what it drives like or what the top speed is but considering I don’t even drive cars at all, it hardly matters. Often the korean companies will do this — see something that another country has made (in this case, Japan & the Cube) then set out to make a cheaper version. And the usual outcome for me is that I look at them as being inferior but in this case it seems to have worked. We once went and took a look at the Nissan Cube, and when you see them on the road you kind of think – hey, small car. But then seeing it up close and sitting in it and it’s, how do I say this, huge. And apparently the Cube has an engine in it with a bit of oomph — which is to appeal to young folks in western countries. With the Ray’s smaller engine and even less oomph, (also, I’m pretty sure there’s no option for a manual, it only auto transmission) it probably won’t do well in Australia/America even if it was released there but Europe: more chance. But for city driving, like here in Seoul, it’s perfect.

It’s pretty amazing that they (_they_) can make 1litre petrol engines that work these days. Full electric engines that make <a href=”http://youtu.be/LnT1VgeXOF0″>Jetson car noises</a> not far away.