Home » The Unsung Hero Of The Autopian Booth At The Auto Show: Cold Start

The Unsung Hero Of The Autopian Booth At The Auto Show: Cold Start

Cs Berkeley Laas1
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I’m finally back from the Los Angeles Auto Show, and it was quite a banger. Also, I’m absolutely exhausted, because I didn’t get in until about 3 am because the cockpit cigarette lighter didn’t work on my flight out of my Minneapolis layover, so I’m sort of a mess. Also my throat is pretty raw from working those car-crazed and free-shirt hungry LA crowds as we did Autopian Car Trivia, where we gave away hundreds of Autopian Certified Car Geek T-shirts.

David even made me give the very shirt I was wearing to a kid, who was disappointed when we ran out! But, Even with all that excitement, the low-key hero of the booth was the little car you see up top: the yellow-and-green Berkeley we got at auction earlier this year.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

You remember the Berkeley, right? This guy:

All throughout the time we were there, that little car drew people in like a people-meat-magnet. Journalists on press days, and then thousands of people when the show was open to the public. People just seemed to gravitate to it unconsciously, and then would take pictures, or, more often than I liked, climb in it.

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Sure, some of that were little, eager kids climbing in – and for them I’d usually open the door and let them sit and grab the steering wheel while their parents snapped photos – but a lot were grown-ass adults, roughly shoving their bodies into that tiny car. The security guard was having to keep an eye on it specifically, that got so common, and eventually we had to make a little sign.

Still, it brought lots of joy, and I’m not sure I realized how big a draw it would be. Good job, Berkeley!

Were you curious what the Big Trivia Screen looked like? Of course you were:

Cs Laas Trivia

And how about the T-shirts we gave away?

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Cs Laas Cargeekshirt

Yes, you’re correct, that car on the shirt is a Porsche 356-powered Zunder! Right, from Argentina! Man, you should have been there! Maybe we’ll print up more of these and do more live Car Trivia events? What would you think of that?

Oh, also, on the way home, I found out that the Minneapolis-St.Paul airport has the best urinal stalls:

What I didn’t realize is that the MSP airport is known for their top-notch bathrooms, and was even voted America’s Top Restroom in 2016! And, even better, it seems that at least some of the reasons why so much effort has been put into this airports bathrooms is because there is actually a bathroom stall there that is famous thanks to a Certain Senator, and after that had actual visitors and tourists seeking it out.

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That may have been part of the motivation for these excellent bathrooms, built in part at least by Innovative Surfaces, but it also may be because the bathrooms can be used as storm shelters? I’m not sure, but what I do now know is that MSP’s bathrooms get way more press than any other I can think of. And now, I’ve added to it!

The cycle continues.

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Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
6 months ago

> I didn’t get in until about 3 am because the cockpit cigarette lighter didn’t work on my flight out of my Minneapolis layover

I’m confused. What does the cigarette lighter have to do with getting home late?

Gary Lynch
Gary Lynch
6 months ago

JT taking the first officer”s seat?

Strangek
Strangek
6 months ago

The Albuquerque airport has some of the finest restrooms you’ll find anywhere.

Ben
Ben
6 months ago

Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome because I’ve spent so much time there (it’s the main layover from my local airport), but I do find MSP to be a pretty good place to spend time. Besides the nice and plentiful bathrooms, there are a couple of less-used concourses that you can usually go find some peace and quiet in and they’ve got a nice selection of restaurants (although some of my favorites got replaced during the pandemic). Plus you can kill an hour just walking a full lap of the airport.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
6 months ago

Wait, there’s an AMERICA’S TOP RESTROOM? Forget cars, I’ve found my calling.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
6 months ago

*PISH* Most of the time the entire Toronto International airport seems like a bathroom.

I was on a layover at MSP once and having a beer in one of the bars. A caregiver pushing a very old lady in a wheelchair came in and ordered a glass of wine for the lady. They freakin’ carded the old lady. An octogenarian! She probably had a few loaded handguns in her carry on, but THAT would have been ok! ‘Murcans, you have so lost your way…

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
6 months ago

Pearson is indeed kind of a shit airport. A massive, sprawling cowpie of an airport.

Headfullofair
Headfullofair
6 months ago

Glad to see the Autopian celebrating World Toilet Day!
https://www.un.org/en/observances/toilet-day

Beer-light Guidance
Beer-light Guidance
6 months ago

Also, I’m absolutely exhausted, because I didn’t get in until about 3 am because the cockpit cigarette lighter didn’t work on my flight out of my Minneapolis layover, so I’m sort of a mess.

Jason, I hope you are not suggesting that they should have overlooked such an important safety component and taken off anyway. Without the cigarette lighter working their would have been nowhere to plug in the Fuel Shark. You would have crashed half way home after running out of fuel!

Last edited 6 months ago by Beer-light Guidance
Parsko
Parsko
6 months ago

COTD!! LOL

DysLexus
DysLexus
6 months ago

I reckon there were some confused parents as they tried to put quarters in the machine as their child climbed in for a ride and photo op in the baby Berkeley.

Parsko
Parsko
6 months ago

I learned that the Tampa International Airports also have award winning bathrooms. I did not discover this until I exited said bathroom a little dumbfounded at how unusually nice they were.

https://news.tampaairport.com/its-official-tpa-takes-the-throne-in-the-2022-americas-best-restroom-contest/

Njd
Njd
6 months ago

If you ever want a study in airport bathroom contrasts, take a flight from MSP to EWR. The return trip is much better.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
6 months ago
Reply to  Njd

EWR’s restrooms (for the ladies – I can’t speak for the other facilities) are luxurious havens compared to those at O’Hare. I fail to understand how such a busy airport can justify having so few toilets for a single concourse.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
6 months ago

Sometimes I take a flight to MSP just to take a leak.
Glad you had fun.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
6 months ago

full-height walls with storage cubbies and hangars

In my day, pilots had to get out of their planes to do their business!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
6 months ago

Reporting on airport restroom urinals is the epitome of yellow journalism.

Toecutter
Toecutter
6 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

COTD here!

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
6 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Shut it down, folks, we have a COTD winner!

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
6 months ago

My recollection is that the restroom with the infamous “wide stance” stall was demolished because it had become an unintended tourist attraction.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
6 months ago

I’ll never get over that MSP police ran an “undercover operation” by having a dude sit on the shitter all day waiting for another dude to play footsie with him. Really protecting and serving that day.

Also shoutout to Holy Land in Street Car Alley, best airport falafel in the game.

Toecutter
Toecutter
6 months ago

I’ll never get over that MSP police ran an “undercover operation” by having a dude sit on the shitter all day waiting for another dude to play footsie with him. Really protecting and serving that day.

Places/police have done worse. Some places have removed stall doors under the guise of “public safety” or preventing junkies from shooting up. It didn’t stop the junkies, but it does make things extra awkward for anyone who needs to poop there. Police have also placed cameras in restrooms and watched people using the toilets in effort to catch a tiny minority of people engaging in “lewd behavior”, only for this “evidence” to get thrown out of court. What a country!

Toecutter
Toecutter
6 months ago

This microcar draws the attention it does because it represents something that people can no longer have: a small, fun, efficient, economical-to-operate, inexpensive-to-purchase sports car. No one makes anything like this for sale in the USA, nor will they, because if you want a fun car, manufacturers want you to PAY for it or they see you as “undeserving” of something they now think should be “exclusive” to people with lots of money.

A modern variant of this car could be made and sold as a three-wheeler to get around FMVSS standards(which are too expensive to comply with unless you’ve got the money to mass produce a vehicle), and it can still be made to be safer than most 1980s cars in most circumstances if you design the roll cage and crushable substructures correctly. An electric variant of such a thing able to seat 1 person, weighing in around 300-400 lbs, CdA value of under 0.15 m^2, 200+ miles range, AWD, with 100+ peak horsepower, can be done today for well under $10k in components with off the shelf parts. The real driver of cost will be production volume and labor. Mass produce it to get the cost down, and the market may very well follow…

The Minneapolis-St.Paul airport has some of the best urinals I’ve ever had the pleasure of soaking with urine. Real stalls, full-height walls with storage cubbies and hangars, a marble back wall to stare at and see shapes in whilst micturating— these are a urinator’s dream! I drew it because I felt too weird taking a picture in the bathroom, but I promise this is an accurate representation.

Those are luxurious. Sure as hell beats any restroom with partionless trough urinals and doorless stall or no stall toilets that I’ve had to use. If institutions start switching to unisex multi-user restrooms yet insist on retaining urinals for males, IMO this is the right way to do it, so that the urinal users have privacy, without the efficiency of throughput being compromised(as would be the case if urinals were removed and each toilet was a closed off room, leading to long lines for all and urine-soaked toilet seats for the ladies).

Last edited 6 months ago by Toecutter
DadBod
DadBod
6 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

The bizarro version of these MSP urinals is what they offered at the old Braves stadium in Atlanta: a stainless steel trough with a trickle of water running down it. Sidle up and rub shoulders with some new friends!

Toecutter
Toecutter
6 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

I’ve seen worse. When I was a kid, I once had to use one of those circular trough urinals at another school while participating in an extracurricular activity. The restroom was crowded, and the sights were as atrocious as you can imagine.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
6 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

When I was little (5 maybe?) I went to a game at the old Cleveland Stadium. I was small enough to need to stand on a step to reach, and remember making the mistake of looking around. There were nightmares after that. It was my one and only experience with trough urinals, thank Jeebus!

Toecutter
Toecutter
6 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

It was my one and only experience with trough urinals, thank Jeebus!

Lucky you!

I’ve used them 20+ times by now. Same with sitting in doorless stalls. Stadiums, schools, military bases, highway rest stops, bus stations, bars, camp grounds, state fairs, city parks, all have been places where I’ve come across facilities of this sort. Sometimes you don’t have the option of waiting and there is nowhere else to go. Although nature trumps modesty, it is most unfortunate that there are some things that once seen, can’t be unseen.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
6 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Yup, doorless/wallless “stalls” in barracks. Just two rows of toilets facing each other. Nothing like taking a dump face to face with the NCO who will be directing your activities the rest of the day.

Toecutter
Toecutter
6 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

In high school, I used to train with the Marines for fun(never joined). Went to the base a few times.

Picture this setup: on one side was a row of crappers with no partitions and a piss trough. Opposite to that were the sinks and mirrors. I’d eaten way too much the previous day and wouldn’t have been able to make the bus ride home without stopping by first. It was also crowded. The toilets were so close together that a row of people sitting on them almost touched knees. The only consolation is that none of my classmates saw me there, just strangers.

Last edited 6 months ago by Toecutter
Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
6 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Marines? For fun? Masochist.

Yeah, it’s like the guys designing the barracks forget that these are people, not cannon fodder. Oh, wait….

Toecutter
Toecutter
6 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

I like being physically fit and knew exactly what I was getting into. Which is also the reason I never joined, much to the disappointment of the recruiter who hosted that PE class.

At the time, probably my most embarrassing experience with a restroom. Worse than that came later.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
6 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

I don’t know how many times I used those trough urinals at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium as a kid… Bathrooms were little more than a room with porcelain troughs, piles of urinal cakes, and a few barely open windows.

ES
ES
6 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

our grade school had the trough in the floor. older boys were constantly “bumping” the kindergarteners and first graders into it as they walked by. by second grade, you arranged a lookout buddy.

but my favorite is the pub in the Aran Isles (can’t spell the island, but it’s the little one) that has a standard single urinal in quarters so narrow you have to sidle into position. then pissing is a strangely aural experience. when i sidled back to freedom, i bent down and saw the drain was just a short length of pvc that opened above a patch of gravel. indoors. (the gravel patch extended to a cutout in the foot of the wall to the left of the urinal).

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
6 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Are you sure that wasn’t a multi-station handwashing basin?

Toecutter
Toecutter
6 months ago
Reply to  Hondaimpbmw 12

100% sure. There was no foot lever to dispense any more water, others were using it as a urinal, and it was the only urinal in the room. There were sinks/mirrors on the wall, and a row of three sit-down toilets on the opposite wall with no partitions(which two desperate students were sitting on the end toilets, making standing between them just a bit NOPE).

They call it the school to prison pipeline for many reasons.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
6 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

Had a Cajun restaurant that had the trough filled with ice. Fun melting the cubes while improving aim.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
6 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

The men’s room at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the same.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
6 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

My Dad traveled around Moscow in the mid 1960s. He said the toilets there were simple holes in the floor you squatted over with a dour faced comerade babushka who handed you EXACTLY three sheets of the finest Soviet sandpaper. God help you if you asked for more.

Edit: something like this I think, just add babushka:

https://sadanduseless.b-cdn.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/russian-school-toilets11.jpg

Last edited 6 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Toecutter
Toecutter
6 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

That’s grim. Makes America’s worst facilities seem luxurious by comparison. I’ve heard similar(and worse) horrors from people who visited or lived in rural China.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
6 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Well that would be RURAL China.

I’ll say this much for those red commie holes in the floor; they didn’t need to be picked up, carried and dumped over the fence into the neighbor’s sheep’s field every few days by those poor babushkas like the honey buckets I used as a kid in rural Sweden did.

(Come to think of it now I’m kinda amazed we never got cholera from drinking the well water.)

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
6 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

China in the 80s was like that.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
6 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

Oh and you were expected to bring you own toilet paper, or simply go without.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
6 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

So were a lot of other places. Lots of US National parks are still like that.

Hondaimpbmw 12
Hondaimpbmw 12
6 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

They an be a cut better than that. We encountered them at the Singapore zoo (I’d use my own picture, but haven’t figured out how to do that here), but the thing I’ve found off-putting is that they don’t provide hand rails to grip for getting down and back up. BTW, the zoo provided a “bum gun” to aid in cleansing after the fact.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squat_toilet

Last edited 6 months ago by Hondaimpbmw 12
Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
6 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

There’s a very nice hotel in NYC where the dimly lit lobby bar men’s room designed by a famous architect has a urinal that is simply an entire wall of granite with a drain and a little bit of water running down. The opposite wall is an identical slab of granite except for the drain and the water.
I walked in, looked at the urinal wall, looked at the other wall, looked at the attendant with an expression of disbelief, and the attendant did the NYC palms up eye roll that suggested that he had done it a thousand times.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
6 months ago

A broken cigarette lighter in the cockpit sounds trivial, but it serves an important function. Not to get the pilots their nicotine fix but rather as a place to plug in their radar detector. Otherwise, they risk being nabbed by the sky cops.

Racingtown
Racingtown
6 months ago

MSP is my favorite airport. Everything about it is pleasant, not just the bathrooms. Might be the “Minnesota Nice” people, but I would try to plan flights with layovers at MSP.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
6 months ago

I’m originally from Minneapolis and can confirm that MSP has both some of the best airport bathrooms in the world, as well as some of the best and reasonably priced food found in US airports. There is a section called “Food Truck Alley” with outposts of local establishments and the prices are basically what you’d pay at their locations outside the airport. It’s also nice that within the main airport you can go wherever past security, unlike some airports(SFO, LAX) where you’re pretty much stuck in one area unless you want to go through security multiple times.

Last edited 6 months ago by Cryptoenologist
Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
6 months ago

My only memory of MSP is of a long layover walking from on concourse with a smoke room to another with a bar. They might have redone it since then.

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