Fast 5: The Week in Quirky Car News

Fast-Five_3.2.jpg illustration by Paul Dolan

5. Driving on Eggshells

Eggshell_Rubber_OSU.jpg The Ohio State University image

CARS.COM — Researchers at The Ohio State University reportedly have discovered a way to replace petroleum-based filler used in tire manufacturing with more environmentally friendly food waste. The patent is pending on a replacement for carbon black filler made from eggshells and tomato peels — helping to make tire production more sustainable and reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Also pending is the new availability of radials at Whole Foods next to the quinoa.

4. Busted Bridge

Highway_1.jpg greta6/iStock/Thinkstock

Boy, California just can’t win. After some six years under drought conditions, the Golden State finally got some rain — a helluva lotta rain, actually — and it cuts off one of the most iconic driving routes in American car culture: Highway 1. Motorists hoping to take the Pacific Coast path from Los Angeles up to Big Sur better factor in some extra drive time — like 250 miles’ worth — to detour around the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, which is sinking because of last month’s heavy rains. Bridge replacement is expected to take at least a year. Bummer, dude.

3. Cat-astrophe Averted

Stowaway_Cat.jpg fanjianhua/iStock/Thinkstock

A St. Paul, Minn., trucker’s cat, too clever for its own good, escaped from the rig’s cab while the owner was sleeping at a truck stop by stepping on the power window switch, setting off a wide-reaching social-media-assisted search for the trucker’s feline friend, Percy. Roughly 400 miles later through a nasty winter storm, Percy emerged from underneath the truck, where he’d survived the cold, wet, filthy trek riding on the outside of the semitrailer, relatively unscathed. (No word on how many of Percy’s original nine lives he went through.)

2. Not Good in the Clutch

16_Dodge_Viper_Stick_Shift.jpg Manufacturer Image

Pro tip: If you’re a carjacker who doesn’t know how to operate a manual transmission, make sure you only attempt to steal an automatic. An 18-year-old suspect in Ohio was charged with three counts of aggravated robbery after he and a teenaged accomplice allegedly attempted their third carjacking of that day, but were thwarted by the exotic automotive technology commonly known as a stick shift. After failing to assimilate the victim’s instructions on how to shift gears, the suspects fled only to be arrested later. Automakers promptly began selling the manual transmission as an “anti-theft option” for an additional charge.

1. The Littlest Luxury Car

Tiny_Rolls-Royce.jpg Rolls-Royce SRH | Manufacturer Image

OK, normally we would ridicule a miniature electric-powered Rolls-Royce for kids as, like, the Joe Camel of the auto world designed to hook ’em on conspicuous car consumption while they’re young. But the all-new Rolls-Royce SRH deserves cheers, not jeers. The ultra-luxury toy car — named for the St. Richard’s Hospital pediatric surgery unit in the English automaker’s hometown of Chichester, West Sussex — lets child patients drive themselves to their own surgery through a hospital-corridor course lined with traffic signs at speeds of up to 10 mph. The battery-powered roadster is said to be appointed with all of the opulent sumptuousness of a regular-size Rolls, and the drive to the operating room is intended as a stress-relief measure for the young motorists. (We’re not crying, you’re crying.)

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