Today’s Lesson: Decoding VIN Numbers

Einstein Vin #'s

VIN numbers allow ordinary people to be detectives, and who doesn’t want to solve a mystery?

FACT: In 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration forced the standardization of VIN’s (Vehicle Identification Numbers) on all of the car manufacturers.  From that point forward, all VIN’s were a 17 digit code, each digit representing an important detail about that car.  LIES!! BLASPHEMY!!  Ok, fine…. 16 of them are important car details, blame Einstein for the seventeenth digit. We will cover that later….

FACT: I, O, and Q are letters that are not used in VIN’s because they could be confused with 1 & 0. Letters U & Z aren’t used for the 10th digit. Crazy, I know.

FACT: Albert Einstein never owned a car, so he likely knew nothing about VIN numbers or their meaning.  Does that make all of you guys smarter than Einstein? Yes, it absolutely does.Continue Reading

Highway Cow: “Mooooove Over”

Highway Cow

Sometimes what is seen in your side view mirror cannot be unseen. “Kmann27” over on Reddit peeked into his mirror and found this gigantic cow staring back at him. I really hope it is plastic and on a trailer, because if real cows in Kmann27’s area are this large and travel by highway, we all may be in trouble.  Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time the 1A Auto blog has encountered giant cow’s involved with cars.

Image found posted by Kmann27 on Reddit

This Is What Cars Look Like in Boston Right Now.

Over the weekend, I found myself hanging out late night in Boston.  After grabbing a delicious cupcake at “Mike’s Pastry“, I snapped off a few photos of my surroundings.  If this thaws by July, it will be a miracle.  Keep in mind, it hasn’t snowed in a week, and we have 20 more inches on the way.

Note: Night time + Winter + Photos = Not Pretty. Sorry ’bout that. I swear I am working on my photography skills to provide you with higher quality in the months ahead.  At least you know that they are real!

This Yellow Citicar Could Make You Green.

The Citicar

Back in 1974, Vanguard began production of the Citicar.  It was the brainchild of Robert Beaumont, and although he was from the north east, he produced all of these cars in Florida.  For around $4500, you could have your very own fully electric vehicle.  It seated 2 comfortably, could probably hit 38 mph, and would make it a distance of 50 miles on one charge! Take that Volt! Sure you appear to be driving a cheese wedge, but haters with gasoline engines aren’t saving the environment like you are.  Sadly, just 3 years after production began, strict government regulations drove the Citicar company to its electrified grave.

The company was broken up into pieces and sold at auction.  A gentleman named Frank Flowers from New Jersey purchased the largest piece of the Citicar company and by 1979, he was successfully producing the ……..wait for it……… “Comuta-car”.  That’s right folks, no longer would you be in an upscale Citicar, you were now surrounded in a safety net of proper New England slang.  For all intents and purposes, The Comuta-car was a Citicar, but with numerous improvements, including a larger motor, and a rally stripe option (lolwut?).  Following the Citicar’s destiny, production ceased after just 3 years.  Like most automotive stories, there is a bright side;  take a guess at who has the record for the most post-war electric vehicles every produced? Not-so-fast Tesla. Apparently, this Citicar / Commuta-Car vehicle still holds that record!  Congratulations you little electric wedge of cheese!

Now that you are totally amp’ed up about the C-cars and their amazing history, let me sweeten the story yet again by revealing that there is a Citicar for sale on eBay right now for one third of the original purchase price!  What a value! It’s banana yellow, has a small crack in the hood, and doesn’t charge when you plug it into the wall. All of which are mere details.  The starting bid is $1000, but there is a buy it now price for $1500.  So what do you say? Are you mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared to go green with 1970’s technology?

eBay Item # 250766266276

Citicar flyer borrowed from:

Video: The Lancia Delta S4 Goes 0-62 in 2.3 Seconds….on Dirt.


The Lancia Delta S4 has been invading my brain for a few days now, and I just can’t seem to shake it off. If you aren’t familiar with it, I’m not that surprised because it was part of Group B Rally Racing back in 1985 and 1986. Then it sort of fell off the planet. Between 1982 and 1986, Group B rally racing was “open minded” when it came to the race cars, so some of them were horrifyingly, stupid, silly fast.  In fact, they were so dangerous that Group B was ended by the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) at the end of 1986.  Many people blame the rally spectators for this FIA decision because sometimes they stood in front of oncoming race cars, and got hit…..duh…  I’m not here to place blame though, I just want to share the greatness that is the S4.

The Lancia Delta S4 was loosely based on the Lancia Delta.   In reality, they shared almost nothing, except for the general shape of the body. The Delta S4’s body was built from carbon fiber, it had long arm race suspension, all wheel drive, and of course a twin charged mid mounted engine.  Officially it made 480 horsepower, but off the record, it was rumored to be closer to 600.  That is ludicrous power from a little 1759cc engine (That translates to about a 1.8 Liter or 107 cubic inch), not too shabby.Continue Reading