We, the mining brats, when we were little ities, would hang onto the fence during break at Pinegrove Primary School in Springs, South Africa and watch the cars go by. As mining brats we were more privileged and informed than the other kids. They never saw magazines; they knew nothing of new cars; their clothes were of cheap cloth and bad cut; we had sturdy metal bicycles; our parents worked on the local mine, East Geduld.
David Pretorius had an older brother who got the magazine, Modern Mechanics. It sported articles on new cars. When he was not looking, David would purloin it and circulate it to us. Thus we knew of fishtails and chrome. Thus we could recognize the latest car. And that is why we clung to the fence–for we could not see over, being too short—and shout in delight when a modern (fishtail adorned) car drove by.
Last summer I took my grandson to the Patterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The place is awash in those magnificent old cars: pink with sweeping fishtails. I stood in awe and memory, gazing on this automotive beauty forever. My grandson said: “Those are ugly cars. That sharp thing at the back could hurt you.” Sic transit mundi.
I still love sensuous cars of large size and sweeping lines. In the basement garage of our office block here in Vancouver is just such a car. I stop for minutes every time I pass it and am swept away by its immense size and sexy lines. I know the car belongs to one of the mining engineers in the building. How I envy him.
The car is a Fiska Karma. Wikipedia tells us this about the car:
The Fisker Karma was revealed at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It is the first car from Fisker Automotive, a new auto maker based in Anaheim, California, founded on 5 September 2007.
Production began in July 2011, and the first two deliveries took place in the United States on July 26, 2011. In October 2011 the first Karma delivered in the UK was auctioned to benefit Pratham UK and raised a bid of GB£140,000 (around US$220,000).
The Karma is a pure series hybrid, driven by a pair of 120 kW (161 hp) electric motors that get their power from a 20 kWh lithium ion battery supplied by A123 Systems. The battery pack runs down the center of the car, between the pairs of left-hand and right-hand seats, preventing a rear bench and seating four rather than five passengers. Once the battery is depleted, or when the driver presses the “Sport” mode button, the front-mounted 260-hp, 2.0-liter Ecotec four-cylinder direct-injected and turbocharged gasoline engine powers a generator that sends electricity directly to the drive motors. The engine is sourced from General Motors. Like the Chevrolet Volt, the Karma’s engine is mated with a generator to provide an electrical connection to the motors and also recharge the batteries, and as such the electric motors are the only mechanical driving force connected to the wheels. However, in all-electric mode, the Karma is around half as efficient as the Volt. The proprietary Q-Drive hybrid drive train is supplied by Quantum Technologies, which operates in a joint venture with Fisker Coachbuild known as Fisker Automotive. The Karma’s curb weight is 5,300 lb (2,400 kg).
The Karma includes as standard a solar paneled roof manufactured by Asola Advanced and Automotive Solar Systems GmbH, a Quantum Technologies affiliate, not only to aid in the recharging of its lithium-ion batteries but also to aid the cabin climate control system. The solar roof is capable of generating a half kilowatt-hour a day and is estimated to provide up to 4 to 5 miles (6.4–8.0 km) of additional range a week assuming continuously sunny days. Additionally, the car will offer a set of solar panels for the garage/house which may charge the Karma without the benefit of conventional electrical sources (e.g. ‘off the grid’).
The Karma’s two 201 brake horsepower (204 PS) motors produce 1,300 newton metres (960 lbf·ft) of torque. The Karma features a 125 mph (201 km/h) top speed and is capable of reaching 60 mph (97 km/h) from a standstill in 6.3 seconds.
Sorry for all the technical detail–but that is the essence of so amazing a car. Now tell me we cannot, as miners, be environmentally sensitive and yet spoilt by the immense rewards of mining! And continue into old age, as old mining-beneficiaries, to enjoy the amazing sensuous beauty of superb cars. The only part is that we do not own the car—another miner does. Thus the rewards of mining.