Tesla has shifted the auto industry to ditch the key

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It appears there’s finally a tech area where legacy automakers can keep up with Tesla – keyless car entry and ignition.

They’ve been trying various versions out for a number of years already, but now that Tesla has upped the game by creating a computer on wheels, the tech is getting a near-universal addition on all new cars. According to an Edmunds report cited by CBS, 91% of vehicle models produced for 2019 have keyless ignitions as either standard or optional, a feature that Tesla was first to offer. This is up from 72% offered in 2014. Of vehicles purchased, nearly 70% included keyless tech in 2019, more than doubling the 31% from 2014. Clearly, consumers are being won over.

I remember some early security criticism when keyless entry was making the rounds, both the over-the-top kind and some with accompanying evidence. Personally, my old Jeep fob used to be able to unlock other cars sometimes in large parking lots, so security issues rang true to me, too. I also remembered stories about people hacking other people’s computers and phones simply by grabbing their WiFi or Bluetooth signals. If they could access my banking that easily, my car should be no match. Scary!

I swear there was a keyless car tech Luddite Award waiting somewhere with my name on it.

Tesla one-upped all that with the Model 3 – now you can start your car with your phone and soon drive it as well. The amped-up security seems to make it near impossible to hack into, but I’ve seen videos on how people can potentially clone signals when Tesla owners are at Superchargers. Quite difficult, but not totally impossible. Then again, the car is still a computer with a gazillion ways to be tracked. I’ve seen those stories, too, and it seems there’s a reason the number of successfully stolen Tesla cars hovers in the single digits.

All that said, Tesla seems to have Luddite concerns all wrapped up with their vehicles, but what about legacy auto? Fortunately for them, not every capable computer programmer in the world works at Tesla already. In fact, many of them already work for automakers. It seems every manufacturer already has software development centers and divisions dedicated exclusively to their vehicle tech, and they’ve been recruiting from Silicon Valley for years.

Their battery and self-driving tech might be woefully behind Tesla for a while yet, but apps that electronically tell their car to do things it already knows how to do manually? They should have that in the bag soon. Lincoln is about to introduce keyless ignition next year, so it’s quite likely the rest of the gang will follow suit since they’re already halfway there with keyless entry and app-based auto start functions to pre-warm cars.

It’s a small step, but an important one. Perhaps by following Tesla’s lead in computerizing (app-ifying?) nearly everything in their vehicles, they’ll understand a bit better what makes Tesla so unique. They’ll understand why Tesla’s tech is so appealing. They’ll understand why consumers are embracing what Tesla has to offer.

I mean, we probably won’t all embrace the tech quite on the level that Amie DD has and literally make keyless ignition a physical part of our bodies, but we will probably embrace it to the extent that we have let our phones run most of our lives.

Tesla has shifted the auto industry to ditch the key

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Bullitt’s Broadway Revisited: The two worlds for the iconic Ford Mustang and San Francisco

Across the Nob Hill and Russian Hill neighborhoods of movie history, Frank Bullitt’s battered green Mustang Fastback bounds over hills and through narrow streets. It chases an unyielding and seemingly indestructible Dodge Charger for more than 10 minutes on film. Through North Beach and Chinatown, near Frank’s apartment at Taylor and Clay, near Coit Tower, around Broadway, the famous chase immortalizes a world of imagination created in two weeks in an editing room.

His Broadway—the Bullitt Broadway—where Robert Duvall’s beige Sunshine Cab No. 6912 waits for Frank at a clandestine meeting at Enrico’s restaurant, lives forever in “Bullitt.”

San Francisco’s Broadway—the real Broadway—is a seedy 2.7-mile mess of detestable vulgarity and destitution in places, bookended by idyllic Bay Area affluence. It’s wonderfully nostalgic and brutally real in others. The real Broadway lacks the polish that the king of cool once gave us. The real Broadway is a sign of the schism between utopia and dystopia, the kind of negative space that only reality creates today.

Broadway in San Francisco at night (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

Broadway in San Francisco at night (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

Ryan Maxey, owner of Naked Lunch (Aaron Cole/Motor Authority)

Ryan Maxey, owner of Naked Lunch (Aaron Cole/Motor Authority)

Broadway in San Francisco (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

Broadway in San Francisco (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

At its heart—the heart that people will find looking for the world of “Bullitt”—flickering neon bounces off aging signs from skin joints like the Hungry I Club and Hustler Club into burgeoning restaurants and literary holes-in-the-walls, beatnik Babels. All of it is real, and all of it is raw.

Ryan Maxey knows those sides of Broadway, and everything in between. Ryan owns Naked Lunch, a restaurant at 504 Broadway named with a not-so-subtle nod to his neighborhood’s sandpaper-rough alley where vice can be a window dressing sometimes. It’s a neighborhood place, the real neighborhood place.

DON’T MISS: What does the Ford Mustang mean to America?

Naked Lunch is also ground zero for Bullitt’s Broadway and San Francisco’s, too: the restaurant is directly downstairs from the sign for Enrico’s restaurant, a visible tie that binds movie history to present-day reality.

It’s also where Maxey, since the 1990s, has watched the dot-com world boom and bust, Silicon Valley’s draw and repulsion, and the original San Francisco Broadway claw its way back into relevance again.

“Places like this, they always come back. It’s just a matter of time,” Ryan says in an afternoon lull, post-lunch rush of reflection. Naked Lunch closes after 4 p.m., when Broadway changes its attitude and clientele.

It’s not a big bet that he’ll stick around for Broadway’s next up from its current down but he’s here for now.

* * *

2018 Ford Mustang GT (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

2018 Ford Mustang GT (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

 

Look closely at the Ford Mustang and Steve McQueen and it’s not hard to draw parallels between those two, and the streets of San Francisco it helped make famous.

The Mustang was Frank Bullitt’s car. But it was also James Earl Ray’s car. For all its fame the Mustang has its infamy, too.

McQueen’s life was similarly tumultuous. Just as difficult as the history some associate with the lonely, orphaned, and temperamental actor, he’s universally revered as the exact opposite: “cool,” everyone wanted to be near him. A postmodern superhero whose own body betrayed him with cancer far too young.

Broadway—the real one—attracts and repels. Ryan looks out on the particle-board brown empty storefronts that have been vacant for years near his restaurant, maybe close to a decade, and wonders how their owners can cling to an idea that’s long gone.

“They’re hoping they can get rents from 5, 10 years ago,” he says. “They’re keeping them empty for nothing. They’re worthless to this area.”

Despite his discouraged tone, Ryan’s attitude is upbeat and forceful. He sees value in the neighborhood that brings him regulars and passersby like me. His tone and approach with familiar and unfamiliar customers is the same—come in, sit down, watch the Warriors, have a beer or lunch. Behind his full beard and tattooed, folded forearms, he smiles in a broad satisfied way that speaks to his optimism—and pragmatism.

A new Mustang sprayed in Dark Highland Green parked near Maxey’s restaurant gets a second look and a smartphone snap. The boarded-up window with a promotional comedy poster from 1997 near countless defunct storefronts doesn’t.

Broadway doesn’t have the pedigree that other famous streets in San Francisco have. It missed out on the Twitter-loin jackpot of Market Street, doesn’t clang with streetcar tourist swagger like Powell, isn’t all elbows like Lombard. It lacks the historical significance of Grant Avenue—one of the first streets named when the city was called Yerba Buena—but Broadway’s roots go back before 1852, when the street appeared on a map by Britton & Rey.

READ NEXT: Terlingua, Texas: Where Carroll Shelby’s rat pack let their Mustangs run wild

Then, Broadway bounded San Francisco’s Barbary Coast, an infamous red-light district during the city’s gold rush boom. The few women in the city during those early boom-town days may have worked there in the world’s oldest profession, and nearby ghettos filled with workers from China and opium dens set the table for Broadway’s checkered relationship with the city around it. In some ways, it’s never gotten better.

Broadway’s schism with the city became a beatnik draw more than 100 years later. Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” a peyote-fueled nightmare told in three acts, was first sold at a bookstore on Columbus and Broadway. It was pulled several times for being indecent.

Broadway in San Francisco (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

Broadway in San Francisco (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

Ginsberg’s local bar, Vesuvio, is next door to the bookstore—across Jack Kerouac Alley—and still open until 2 a.m. every goddamn day of the year.

A passage from Herb Caen, former columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, pronounces the permanent, current mood at Vesuvio, posted on a placard near the bar’s door:

Life is a bad item, short but pointless. You stand at the bar and play Liar’s dice with fate. It’s the San Francisco way. You might win and even if you lose the scenery’s great and the weather isn’t too bad.

Janet Clyde manages Vesuvio and has been in the neighborhood for 40 years. She’s watched the neighborhood move like the waterfront near The Embarcadero. North Beach neighborhood has had working-class to upper-class and every shade inside and outside those lines as long as she’s been around. Vesuvio is a place where the clientele could pay cash for a car, now—or barely scramble the change together for the beer in front of them, now. A projector flashes images from postcards on the wall that change for the season, but the idea is same year-round—there’s an idealized world out there, and there’s also the real world for the rest.

“Money is a barbaric force,” she says.

* * *

Vesvuio in San Francisco Broadway in San Francisco (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

Vesvuio in San Francisco Broadway in San Francisco (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

Broadway in San Francisco (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

Broadway in San Francisco (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

Broadway in San Francisco (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

Broadway in San Francisco (Matt Dayka/For Motor Authority)

Back up.  

Clyde recalls the Broadway neighborhoods where garbage men and stock brokers lived next door. When the financial district and the red-light district weren’t on so-different sides of the same street.

“It’s a mixture of a neighborhood. You needed everybody. You had cab drivers who lived in the neighborhood. You had bartenders who worked in my industry…we had a mixed urban neighborhood with some long-established families,” she says.

“This neighborhood in the late ‘70s was still a very urban neighborhood, mixed-income district. You could cocktail here and make a couple-hundred bucks but feed a family for $7.50.”

Clyde came up from L.A., where life was more expensive. When she made it to San Francisco, the artists had already been priced out to The Mission—but some were left.

Inflation-adjusted, the Ford Mustang that debuted in 1965 would’ve cost less than $19,000 in 2018. Now, the red 2018 Ford Mustang parked out front costs more than twice that—20 times more than the $2,372 needed in 1965 dollars.

By the time the Dark Highland Green Mustang was immortalized in 1968, the pony car wasn’t any less affordable—$2,955 for a GT Fastback.

Bullitt’s Mustang would’ve been equally at home on both sides of Broadway—real, or on celluloid. That car, made an icon by everyman’s cool actor, Steve McQueen, never existed.

The real car made by Ford, sold to middle, high, and low America most certainly did. McQueen, in the real world, was hardly as cool as his character, too.

DON’T MISS: Wild horses, part one: The misfits

Like Broadway, capitalism’s creep has left shells that history has spit-shined after generations have left. Like Broadway, we can revisit the past and argue about the barbaric forces that have driven an icon like the Mustang away from America.

Like Broadway, the Mustang and McQueen and a single 2.7-mile stretch of America will always boom, bust, but always come back. It’s just a matter of time.

For two months, Motor Authority crisscrossed the U.S. in an automotive icon seeking stories about the Ford Mustang’s place in American history. These are our stories from the road about its owners, its history, and its status as an evolving symbol of our relationship with cars in America.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified one car from “Bullitt.” The Dodge Charger was used for the film’s chase scene.

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Lamborghini-based Zagato Raptor concept heads to auction

One lucky bidder might just walk away with a one-off, Lamborghini-based 1996 Zagato Raptor concept car at RM Sotheby’s Abu Dhabi auction later this month. 

This unique concept car was based on the Lamborghini Diablo VT. Stripped down and rebodied, the Raptor looks every bit like a one-off Italian creation from the mid-1990s. Even a casual glimpse at the panel alignment will tell you just about all you need to know about where this car came from. It’s not particularly practical, either. 

“The Raptor had a kerb weight nearly 300 kg lighter than the Diablo, a result of the carbon-fibre bodywork, magnesium wheels, stripped-out interior, and lack of fixed doors,” the Raptor’s listing says, going on to say that it would theoretically hit 60 mph in under 4 seconds on the way to a top speed “on the interesting side of 200 mph.”

Knowing what we know now about the engineering of older Lamborghinis, we suspect that “interesting” could just as easily be “terrifying.” Despite this, the listing says, the Raptor was said to boast “extremely good handling and performance as well as drivability.”

1996 Zagato Raptor Concept

1996 Zagato Raptor Concept

1996 Zagato Raptor Concept

1996 Zagato Raptor Concept

1996 Zagato Raptor Concept

1996 Zagato Raptor Concept

Considering that RM Sotheby’s expects the Raptor to fetch north of $1 million when it crosses the block, we suspect that assertion might go untested. Under the lid, it has the same 5.7-liter V-12 found in the Diablo VT upon which it was based, where it made nearly 500 horsepower. Power goes through a 6-speed manual transmission and to the ground via all-wheel drive. 

Zagato built the Raptor to weigh some 650 pounds less than the car on which it was based, though the Diablo VT was a bit portly for a performance car at the time, weighing in north of 3,500 pounds. A brand-new Aventador, for comparison, weighs about 100 pounds less than the VT. Chalk that one up to the efficiency of modern Lamborghini’s German overlords. 

The Diablo VT was the test bed for Lamborghini’s all-wheel-drive system, which was largely lifted from the LM002 SUV. Those roots could partially explain its curb weight. Lamborghini also outfitted it with 4-piston brake calipers, electronically controlled dampers, and power steering—fancy kit for a Lamborghini of the time. 

The Raptor will cross the block at RM Sotheby’s Abu Dhabi on Nov. 30.

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