October 11, 2000
This month's wired content is

This month's wired content is now online; there are several good articles, including one on the recent Perl Cruise, an interview with David Boies about Napter's legal standing and this amazing article about the US subculture of people building really really really loud cars:

For the past few months, inside a Phoenix warehouse that is strictly off-limits to outsiders, a crew has been customizing a Ford Bronco with a car stereo designed to pump out a whopping 175 decibels. Sound intensity is measured on a logarithmic scale - power doubles once for every three additional decibels - so that means the Bronco's 48,000-watt system will be eight times louder than a 747. Obviously, this is not the typical bass-booming joyrider that cruises America's streets, collecting noise-pollution tickets and annoying people at stoplights. This Bronco is a highly modified, volume-maxing war machine whose sound levels are so heinous that no living person will ever be allowed to sit inside for a full-blast listen. It's called, appropriately enough, "the Beast."

The Beast is as strange a vehicle as you're likely to see. A remote control works the volume levels from the outside, where it's safe. The windshield is 3 inches thick, to prevent it from blowing out. Pneumatic pistons pull the doors shut with thousands of pounds of pressure, maintaining an airtight seal and stopping them from flying open. The body panels have been stiffened to keep them from crumpling under the force of the beat. The stock bench seat has been replaced with two custom bucket seats, fitted so far forward that the vehicle must be driven with your knees nearly at chin level. Behind the seats is a floor-to-ceiling wall of speaker cones. There is so much extra weight from the reinforcements and the dozens of batteries powering the sound system that the vehicle's top speed is about 30 mph - anything faster and the brakes might fail. The gas tank has been downsized to hold merely five gallons and the steering wheel is vestigial, 8 inches across, because this car doesn't go anywhere except up a trailer ramp. The Beast is designed for one purpose only - to be the loudest thing on four wheels.

Posted by Bill Stilwell at October 11, 2000 12:00 AM
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