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Shadow's unique collection of gadgets and tricks
(both implemented and not)

Artistic rendition of site author's heavily modified 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 supercar
1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 supercar

This page last updated on or about 3-21-11
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Back to Me and my Shadow supercar

[Caution: This page is meant for entertainment and historical documentation purposes only.]

If you'd prefer to see all of Shadowfast's technical details in ebook form, Dark Horse: The Official Shadowfast Supercar Technical Reference is now available for any Amazon Kindle or Kindle app.

Shadowfast the 1970s supercar boasted some unique gadgetry and a bag of tricks among his supercar modifications and/or accessories. This was in keeping with his overall design ideals including the Batmobile of comic books and the Bond cars of feature films.

I and others came up with lots of ideas for such things, but only some of them actually ended up being built into Shadow as functioning devices (or added to his accessory list, as the case may be).

Partly the culling process was driven by money and time constraints; practicality and day-to-day drivability also played a role.

I also tried to avoid implementing those items which might be more dangerous to myself the driver or innocent bystanders than any pursuer or attacker.

All that being said, here's a list of Shadow's own unique collection of gadgets and trick devices. This list includes both those actually installed and those considered but either never added, or added and later removed for various reasons.

Just to be on the mischievious side I'm NOT often going to distinguish here between mere concepts and items actually built. For more clues to identifying them please refer to other pages like The Shadowfast super car project notes, Comparisons between Shadowfast and a 1969 Shelby GT-350, and How I built Shadowfast on the cheap. I'm also NOT offering how-to details here, for the most part-- for most of these things would be even more dangerous on the road today than in the comparatively low-traffic, high-speed 1970s.

Stealth running lights mode. Purpose: Black out all lighting on a car except the headlights to make it more difficult for pursuers to follow at night. Brake lights must also be disabled for this to work (used in Ring of fire, Over the edge and What goes around...). A very early, hastily improvised version of this trick is used in Slip, sliding away.

Rare actual photo aerial view of the 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 supercar Shadowfast parked beside a more conventionally equipped (but still customized) 1970 Mustang
Note the visual difference in broad daylight between an all-blacked out Shadowfast on the left and the more conventional Mustang on the right. Now imagine the difference in the dark. In the photo above Shadow's flexible lower air dam has been removed because of frequenting narrow college campus streets with high curbed concrete islands in-between them at the time.

Stealth paint, body, interior mods. Purpose: Make a car harder to see anytime, under any conditions, but especially at night or in dim lighting circumstances. This makes it easier to escape pursuit and hide. All chrome and shiny ornamentation must either be removed or painted over. Preferred colors flat black or dark to medium gray (CAVEAT: Stealth mods also make it easier for other vehicles to strike yours accidentally due to simply not seeing your car. END CAVEAT). Changing interior lighting to red-filtered drastically reduces the distance at which such lighting will be noticed (this allows more surreptitious entry, exit, and map-reading, among other things; CAVEAT: The colors on maps will look different under red light than normal; some colors may not show up at all(!)). END CAVEAT. Another thing I found handy to do was make all interior lighting dependent upon manual switching. That is, DISABLE the normal factory standard practice of having an interior light come on automatically when a door is opened. CAVEAT: Of course having no automatic interior light might be impractical for those folks unfamiliar with their car controls, or suffering an excessively complex dash, etc. END CAVEAT. Body mods which make it more difficult to identify a car's make and model can also be useful. Shadow was a 1969 Mustang but resembled a 1970 Mustang in the front headlights and corner posts, a '69 Mustang just behind the doors (the scoops), a Pontiac Trans Am in the rear spoiler, and various stock car racers in the front air dam. The front grill was completely unique, and could not be matched with anything else. Neither could the louvers in the hood. The custom interior was even harder to match to a known street model car than the exterior, with its GT-40 dash and wholly custom two seat and rear deck arrangement (used in Deep in the throat of Texas, Ring of fire, Over the edge, What goes around..., and Nowhere to go but up). A very early temporary version of this is used in Slip, sliding away.

Quick-change body and interior components. Purpose: Fast and easy disguise of a car for miscellaneous purposes. Or rapid stripping to make it appear an undrivable junker, and so enable you to hide it in plain sight. Also easy reconfiguration and improvisation in the field (used in Nowhere to go but up, Deep in the throat of Texas and Over the edge). Things like these are best planned and prepared for way in advance of needing them. For example, say you have a white car you want to be seen as black. But you want the capacity to rapidly and deceptively mix the color scheme under some circumstances. Apply large, wide, conspicuous black stripe decals to the top and sides of the car, over the white paint, but with the car surfaces underneath treated to prevent permanent adhesion (we want to be able to easily remove the decals at some point). Then paint over the entire car black. That way-- in theory-- if you were being chased and managed to hide even briefly, you could pull off the stripes to change the look of your car drastically, from all black to black with major white trim. After that you might be able to resume your getaway at a much more leisurely pace.

Note the decal trick is a temporary thing: the tape won't stick for very long this way.

Thin flexible magnetic sign type sheets can be pretty handy for some disguises-- but mostly as signs of various sorts. You could also cut large area panels for flat spots on your car and paint them but at high speed such stuff might peel off your hood or roof and become a road hazard due to wind force alone.

I always preferred multi-purpose quick-change components myself. For instance, elsewhere in this page I describe a quick-change armor component for the interior of the car. That thing could also be used on the car exterior to drastically change its profile from afar. I.e., Shadowfast could change profile from a fastback to something more like a short station wagon or hatchback with proper installation of the component and another accessory or two. Sure it wouldn't pass a close inspection. But it could throw distant observers off the track at least temporarily. And every extra minute you keep a pursuer guessing as to your location improves your chances of permanent escape. I'll let the reader work out for themselves how exactly this particular trick worked.

Quick-change armor supplements. Purpose: Increase protection for occupants from external gunfire. (used in Ring of fire, Over the edge, What goes around..., and Nowhere to go but up). In the case of Shadowfast, I'm talking three separate major elements here (but one could be broken down into several more, so the count gets complicated fast, depending on the usage).

Basically the largest and most complex element was a skeletal metal frame in the shape of a trapezoid with steel plates hinged on the sides. The whole thing could be folded flat for storage and easier movement into and out of the car. For full installation the frame was placed onto Shadow's rear interior deck and the large metal plates unfolded to a near vertical angle against the interior side walls of the car. Holes for tie fastening were available in the outer edges of the plates to secure them into position. The frame too possessed a few loops which could be quickly engaged or dis-engaged from the car for holding it securely in place. I couldn't find a way to make it light enough all in one form so the trapezoid gizmo was supplemented with another two metal plates, one for each unfolded side. It was important to me that I be able to install and remove the bullet-proofing all by myself.

The two other major elements consisted of independent metal plates cut to a shape similar to the front seat backs, and also possessing mounting holes strategically placed around their perimeter. The two holes nearest the top (sort of on the 'shoulders' of the plates) allowed an insulated wire loop to be tied between them. The top of the seat would fit through this loop to place the top of the plate. The plate bottom was secured in somewhat similar fashion, only there the wire had to be re-fastened or undone on one side of the plate with each application or removal. This item was one of the more clumsy of Shadow's accessories as the wires (especially the top ones) usually required additional cloth or leather material added to prevent cutting into the seat upholstery and/or sliding too far down as normal driving moves tended to cause over relatively brief time frames. The bottom wires often had to be re-tied and tightened periodically. I never got around to making a better design though as the real need for them was pretty rare, and in any case Shadow was gone soon after they were dreamed up. It should be noted that a few other design points on Shadow helped in this vein inadvertantly. For instance the roll cage was highly bullet resistant in itself.

Note that either of the seat back plates could be quickly removed from the car for use as a hand-carried bullet shield, as described in Ring of fire. However, it may be a single plate alone might not have been sufficient to stop a high-powered rifle bullet. Keep in mind their main use was in a supporting role inside the car, behind one or more other metal layers. There was a trade off here between weight and easy and speedy installation and removal, and bullet protection.

Hidden compartments. Purpose: Hiding people or other items from unwanted detection. Note that a determined searcher with unlimited time and effort can simply tear your car down to nuts and bolts to eventually discover every secret it might have. At least if they can catch you. But any delay in certain finds can be helpful.

Note that the very best hiding places may be in plain sight, inside what many people take to be a single individual part of the car. For instance, I never ever had anyone look inside the pipes making up my roll cage. Yes, the pipes were hollow, and fairly roomy for certain types of things. And yet they were still fully functional against roll-over protection too.

You definitely don't want to cut slots in the pipes for access, as that might weaken them and put you at risk in a roll over. No, there's a couple other routes to take in utilizing a roll cage for hidden compartments.

The most convenient for you (but most easily discovered by searchers) is a wholly fake cage component attached to the rest of the framework in a seemingly integrated fashion. In some 'out of the way' area of the cage unlikely to be often touched or handled by anyone other than yourself and friends. It should also be attached and/or latched as firmly as can be accomplished and still perform its surrepticious storage function. Ideally someone could yank hard enough on it to shake the whole car without it coming loose, so long as its attachment hadn't been compromised.

But by far the best access to the interior space of a roll cage is through the pipe ends where they are welded to the car frame, etc. Yes, this is a lot more work, much less convenient to access in practice, and best planned and implemented from the start of the cage efforts, but it's also a much more secure storage place from snoops. Of course you'll still have to disguise the access ports, and would be best advised to have tie off points inside the ports, where strings attached to long bags holding your hidden materials can be tied to secure things, plus make it easier to extract (otherwise something might somehow get pushed too far up into a pipe and be lost).

Most roll cages have enough different pipes involved where some can be used for hidden storage and others for extra road war gadgets...for example, some familiar with chemistry could consider creating a couple water-tight upright reservoirs in the left and right roll bar verticals, with directional sluice gates underneath the car to throw two different chemicals together for various useful road effects. Smoke-screens, etc. But gadgets like that would require lots of contingency planning and plentiful safeguards, otherwise they could backfire on you or deploy accidentally or leak, etc., etc., etc. The fluids would likely require periodic replacement too, even if they weren't used or depleted...

Siren. Purpose: Same as for law enforcement and emergency vehicles: to clear the way ahead for unencumbered high speed runs (used in Deep in the throat of Texas, Ring of fire, Over the edge, What goes around..., and Nowhere to go but up). Sirens can also be used for distractions or surprise-- although on mine there was a brief delay before it got fully wound up to ear-splitting volume.

Electrified outer skin. Purpose: To stun attackers in close proximity contact with the car. Also can help disperse a crowd or riot converging on your car-- so long as the bodies aren't too closely packed for the frontrunners to recoil from the shock, warning others. I've personally witnessed angry crowds attack cars and turn them over in the street, among other things. Shadow's light weight actually made him a little more vulnerable to this than a factory spec Mustang (but no, he was never turned over this way). 2005 UPDATE: This trick might work better if people approaching the car could see and hear an electrical discharge actually sparking between a couple wires or small antennas in a prominent place on the car when it was active. Sort of like some modern stun guns show when the test button is pushed. But arranging for such a warning sign could add considerable work to the construction. END UPDATE.

Radio jamming. Purpose: Disrupt the radio communications of pursuers with any of their allies. The same power source used for the skin electrification trick above can also be adapted to jam radio transmissions for a certain distance around your car. But the jamming effect will be influenced a lot by the local terrain-- and also jam your own communications power. Keep in mind some savvy folks might actually be able to eventually pinpoint your location by the strength of your jamming signal, especially if you stay in one place long enough.

As for the mystery power source, experienced hot rodders will surely know what I'm talking about; especially hot rodders born during the Great Depression. My dad was the one who showed me this one.

Tire poppers. Purpose: Blow out the tires on pursuers (used in Deep in the throat of Texas, Ring of fire, What goes around..., and Nowhere to go but up). Although as I said before I'm not going to elaborate how-to-wise on some of these devices because of the danger they can pose, I feel I am justified in regards to the poppers to expound a little, due to the widely seen use of police strips on TV to pop tires on suspect vehicles.

TV viewers of such videos might note that runners who suffer blowouts from various means such as the heat of high speed, or gunshots, or tire blowing spike strips from police aren't always stopped by them. So yes, some of the impact of tire popping depends on the circumstances, and some on the driver's psychology. A blow out will definitely throw the driver out of control under some conditions. But in an arrow straight course, on a dry road, and with nothing else going wrong in that moment, the driver of a modern car equipped with power steering might indeed register little immediate problem with one blown tire-- especially if the blow out is on a rear tire rather than a front.

In those ideal circumstances psychology may assume the largest role. If it's the driver's first blow out experience, or the event scares or surprises them enough, or they mistakenly think something worse than that has happened to the car, they may well stop the vehicle, or overcompensate driving-wise and crash for that reason. Or other traffic-- or a pursuing police car-- might contribute its own nudge to help them off the road.

But someone driving over Shadow's tire poppers in the 1970s would never have enjoyed that ideal tire blowing scenario.

For Shadow's tire poppers usually blew out anywhere from two to all four pursuing car's tires near simultaneously, making such an event much more surprising and even shocking than a single blow out. The victim's car would noticeably fall a few inches lower in the front, and sometimes both ends. The car's steering, ride, and handling would suddenly all be severely degraded. If this sudden impairment happened at speed, or while changing lanes or traversing a curve, further troubles were easily spawned from the event.

Shadow's poppers were relatively large and strong. Some would get stuck in a deflated tire/wheel set, with the result being the car would basically be running over them again and again, causing further damage, as well as further hampering the control and handling of the vehicle, beyond that achieved by the tires' deflation.

A well popped car could still travel down the road, but at just a fraction of the vehicle's normal maximum speed, driver comfort, and control. And such travel would be adding to the car's damage with every foot moved. Inflicting new damage which could readily be sensed by the driver, inch by inch.

A popped vehicle with a more robust suspension and higher than usual ground clearance for a street car-- like a four wheel drive-- would do somewhat better than others after being popped. And suffer a lower additional damage rate per foot traveled. But it would still be well-stricken, performance-wise.

Such a popped driver would have no hope of catching Shadow after that, unless Shadow too somehow got disabled at almost the same moment.

In some cases a well-popped car might find itself incapable of reaching significant speeds again after once stopped. Until the tires were replaced. So slowing down too much can turn into an indefinite stay in that locale, if you're well popped. Most drivers won't realize this until they've experienced it first-hand. And so a good popping results in more dead stopped incidents than many might suspect.

In the vast majority of cases drivers are in their own cars, and will stop voluntarily after a popping to minimize further damage. Others will stop out of self-preservation, not wanting to push their luck in such a disabled vehicle.

Of course, in police videos on circa 2006 TV the popped drivers are often drunk or drugged, and don't act like sober people usually would. Or the drivers are in stolen or borrowed vehicles-- not their own-- and so don't care about damage to the vehicle. In other cases the drivers are ex-cons desperate to avoid a new jail term. All these are circumstances that didn't usually apply to anyone popped by Shadow in the driver logs.

It may also be that early 21st century cars are a bit less vulnerable to tire popping than something like 1970s era autos were. I just don't know, as I haven't popped any such newer cars. I often wonder what effect the lower profile rubber and larger diameter wheels popular today would have on such gadgets.

Crash bars. Purpose: Immediately stop pursuers via damage to tires, wheels, suspensions, etc. (used in Over the edge, What goes around..., and Nowhere to go but up).

Picture something like a skinny crow bar with both ends bent into relatively large three dimensional triangles, so that the main body of the bar cannot rest flat on the ground no matter how the bar lays.

Now imagine you're chasing a blacked out mustang, and manage to get only a few car lengths behind it at around 100 mph. Then suddenly the mustang swerves back and forth across both lanes, depositing a wildly bouncing steel bar as described before into each lane.

At this range, if you blink you don't even see the bars at all before you've run over at least one of them. If you don't blink and so do see them, that's all you can do, as again, you strike one before you can possibly take action not to. And even if you could avoid them, it's likely to do it you'd have to run completely off the road or lose control of your vehicle to crash in some other fashion.

That's why I call them crash bars.

Note that painting both the poppers and crash bars bright colors not only make them scarier and more alarming when they suddenly appear from nowhere just feet or yards ahead of high speed pursuers, but also make them a little safer for innocent folks who might come across them later (the colors make the devices much more visible from a greater distance, and so hopefully more easily avoided at such ranges than typical road hazards).

An alternative (or supplement) to painting the bars and poppers themselves is automatically marking the spot in the road where you release them with something like a talcum powder or paint ball splatter.

All this fuss about making these things more visible can help you the supercar driver too under some circumstances: like if you're forced to retrace your previous course and pass through the same spot again soon afterwards. You don't want to be disabled by your own defenses!

Hidden super-bright strobe lights in the rear of the car. Purpose: Temporarily blind pursuers at night (used in Deep in the throat of Texas, Over the edge, What goes around..., and Nowhere to go but up, ).

Custom starting procedure and unusual battery location and kill switches. Purpose: Make it more difficult for any unauthorized person to start up the car, key or no key. The procedure can also offer a secret key bypass emergency start if desired (for when a key is lost or unavailable or it'd simply take too long to dig it up). Seconds often count for a lot in a getaway. (used in Deep in the throat of Texas).

Fake road signs which fold up for compact storage. Purpose: Confuse pursuers. This one's obvious: it's been seen in film and on TV for decades. Something that will surprise anyone trying to make one though is just how big those things usually are at arm's length distance.

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Quick-release drag chute and/or projectile anchor. Purpose (two-fold): (One), encompass the entire front of a pursuer's vehicle, forcing them to stop. Basically this was simply an adaptation of the deceleration parachutes used by high speed dragsters, only here they'd automatically release from your own car once the chute was fully opened, and hopefully collapse onto the pursuit car. To increase the chance for success a heavier drag line or rope or cable attached to the bottom of the open chute would slide along the ground and catch under the pursuing vehicle, thereby anchoring the chute there. Only opening the chute when a pursuit car is at optimal distance behind you helps it work, too.

Note this trick could also act as an emergency brake mechanism for your car. But it's a bit trickier to design a fail-safe trigger and activation mechanism to handle both possibilities than merely one. Plus, any tether between car and chute would need to be much stronger to provide actual braking compared to mere chute expansion prior to release. But in the real world you'd be hard-pressed to find a practical application of a chute for emergency braking on the street, as opposed to straight-line super high speed track-use. From my own experience another purpose for a parachute on a car (besides enveloping pursuers) would be like that available in 2005 for small planes: to cushion a fall from a great height. Remember the film Thelma and Louise? Jumping into the Grand Canyon? If they were wearing seat belts and had a good auto parachute system they could have survived. Heck, with proper configuration, a decent suspension, and a little luck the car could have survived intact too, landing on its feet (so-to-speak) and capable of continuing its journey once the chute cables were released.

(Two), in my day a drag chute was about the only semi-plausible and widely acceptable way a driver might try to prevent his car from getting too far airborne in cases where his aerodynamics were turned against him due to his car suddenly moving backwards or sideways rather than forward at high speeds. In such cases the car might easily begin actually flying and tumbling through the air in a most horrific fashion, as was seen on race tracks many times over past decades. Sometimes a quick release of a drag chute might save the car from that fate, but it could be difficult for the driver to trigger a manual release in what small window of opportunity he possessed. Yes, it was feasible to set up a big warning light on the dash wired to suitable devices to notify the driver he was lifting off-- or even trigger the chute automatically-- but it could be a complex task with the technologies of the day. And there was lots of real world stuff to go wrong, even if all that worked in tests. For even in a straight line drag chutes don't always deploy correctly. And when going airborne a car could be twisting about in all sorts of ways, fouling up the chute lines something fierce and making it useless in a fraction of a second. Plus, if a manual trigger was necessary by the driver, I wouldn't be surprised if they failed to pop the chute in time, 7 instances out of 10.

Race researchers determined by the early to mid-nineties an automatic way to spoil air flow over the roof of a car threatening to go airborne due to backwards or sideways movement with two large flaps at the rear edge of the roof, both much like an air braking flap on a fighter jet, but one installed at something like a 120 degree angle from the other.

Naturally I did not have access to that information when I owned Shadow. But I did see quite a few cars go airborne (including my own). And so considered preventative or remedial actions.

In the seventies a possible but unproven alternative to the drag chute for preventing unwanted flight at speed was a projectile anchor. Basically it'd consist of the most powerful short-barreled gun you could get facing directly down at the road underneath your car, that you could trigger easily and quickly from the cockpit-- or else have an automatic trigger rigged up for same. The custom designed round fired would propel ahead of it a spike meant to embed as deeply into the pavement as possible, and trail behind it a thin but strong steel cable running off a high speed, spring-loaded reel inside the car.

For best results this gun and reel would be centered in the vehicle's width. And the reel itself anchored firmly to the car frame and/or roll cage.

When I say spring-loaded I mean a spring with at least the strength of a single front suspension coil spring from cars of Shadow's era. So the entire gun and reel mechanism would have to be fairly large. Like at minimum three or four car batteries altogether in volume, most likely (hopefully it'd weigh less than the battery example though).

One or both ends of the cable would have to be designed to fail within a specific load range. For it'd be enough simply for it to slow you down tremendously. You'd want the anchor to fix itself in the ground or road, the cable to wind out from the spring-loaded reel up to a certain load or distance, and then one or both ends of the cable break to release you again. The preferred break point would be at the reel itself (to avoid some scary and maybe car damaging cable returns!), but both links should be similar for added redundancy. The reel housing would have to be strong enough to sustain the spring inside expanding again at full speed after cable release.

A more complex arrangement might allow the anchor to not only break away to slow you down from possibly calamitous take off, but also stop your fall off a precipice. Or at least delay or slow it some.

You could design a pull pin into the system which determined whether the anchor cable would go up to a certain load and then break away, or do its damnedest to stop the car no matter what happened. Yikes! Note that a full anchor stop from high speed would be tremendously violent-- if it worked. The longer the cable run out allowed and more gradually compressed the reel spring, the gentler the stop might be. But I suspect there'd be considerable neck snapping risk involved in the full stop mode.

Fortunately it's unlikely your gun-based anchor shooter or anchor design would be able to sufficiently attach to the ground to affect a full stop of a 3000 plus pound vehicle from speeds of 100 plus mph-- which seem to be where the real danger of going airborne resides.

Of course you might run off a cliff at somewhat slower speeds like 50 to 100 mph. In those cases the lower speed range might permit the anchor-- with luck!-- to perform a full stop on your car, and maybe even pull it back up some from dangling beyond the edge.

But if the stop's Gee-forces broke your neck in the act, the stop itself would be of little comfort to you.

Fake road hazards. Purpose: Scare your pursuers off the road. Everyone's familiar with movie props like fake rocks and the like. But did you know some of them were made from foam rubber? Or at least they can be. Realistic looking fake rocks and short-cut tree logs you can tightly compress into a suitable device for punching out onto the roadway at a convenient time, whereby such things can rapidly expand to make an ominous looking obstacle for others. I personally wasn't aware of this possibility until a trip to Disneyworld early in my ownership of Shadowfast.

Alarming 'out-of-nowhere' road hazards. Purpose: Force pursuers to put more distance between them and you. Although it's quite a bit of trouble, it is possible to produce transparent components or layers of plexiglass which inconspicuously fit onto your existing automotive rear end and can be suddenly expelled at pursuers via mechanical remote cable, air pressure changes, or a switchable electro-magnetic set up (a sufficient amount of metal wire, rods, etc., would have to be embedded in or attached to plexiglass components for this). Yes, the items can be in plain sight but transparent, and in one moment change from an apparent fixed part of your car to a wildly flailing airborne threat. If you have several of these babies your pursuers might not be able to figure out where the heck the first two or three came from.

A simpler variation on the above is something like a fiberglass mockup of your rear bumper which precisely fits over the real one, then is expelled at pursuers out of the blue. Note it was much easier to replicate Shadow's flat black rear bumper in fiberglass than the typical chromed metal item.

A very early and inadvertant (on my part) use of this trick can be seen in Too close for comfort, where a passenger dumps out a large (and expensive!) socket tool set in our wake to disrupt traffic. The real-life event from which the story version was drawn worked startlingly well.

Ball bearing dump. Purpose: Send pursuers off the road. Usefulness limited to curves taken at high speed. Wide tires on a pursuit car help too.

Manually controlled dry dust dump over each rear wheel. Purpose: Divert pursuit. This trick can be used to produce a dust cloud to either the right or left at a dirt road turn off to make it appear you turned there. Dumping the dust atop a rear wheel as you drive past the turn off at speed spins the dust into a cloud at that spot. You don't need a lot of dust to produce a cloud-- too much will cause your car to leave a discernible trail past the turn off and defeat the purpose. The dust must also be kept dry to function properly; something maybe not as easy as you think, being as how the dump valve must be located inside a rear wheel well. Wind conditions and your pursuer's line of sight to your car will be important factors in the timing of your dump. Keep in mind if the dust cloud merely slows a pursuer down due to uncertainty regarding your course for a moment or two it could give you the extra time needed for a getaway or other defensive tactic. The dust dump can also be used in a spot to suggest you lost control and went off a bank or something.

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Highly optimized portable pit stop and spare parts shop. Purpose: Rapid recovery of vehicle from breakdown or damage in the field, or adaptation to changing terrain. (used in Deep in the throat of Texas, Ring of fire, and Over the edge). Some motor oil from an early prototype of this stash came in handy for aiding an escape in Slip, sliding away. Shadow enjoyed his own substantial tool kit and spare parts collection on major treks capable of dealing with 90% or more of likely problems. Spare fan belts, radiator hoses, light bulbs, wipers, tire repair kits, air pump, etc., etc., plus virtually any tool which might be required to do a job.

Specialized contingency accessories. Purpose: Surprise attackers or pursuers with unconventional and/or unusual and/or unexpected capabilities.

Note that I rarely carried everything listed below at the same time. Instead, I usually selected subsets of those items I deemed most likely to be useful for a particular run-- much like the experts on one of my favorite TV shows of the time, "Mission Impossible". Some items like the CB radio might have been present but disabled at times for various reasons: i.e., I often removed my roof CB antenna, making the radio non-functional as one result (I didn't like my antenna all that much).

The treks I was most likely to carry a full (or near full) inventory for were extreme long distance runs, or lengthy stays outside of my normal native east Tennessee. For instance, the first time I went to Texas and stayed for a period of months I took along a majority of the items listed below. I also tended to have much of them around during my college stays.

Such accessories might include things like:

A CB radio was the best all-around mobile communications device available for both professional and consumer drivers in Shadowfast's prime (described or used in Deep in the throat of Texas, Over the edge, What goes around..., and Nowhere to Go But Up.)

A collection of road maps for your expected territory and a few hundred miles beyond was pretty much essential with Shadowfast (used in Over the edge and What goes around...) During most or maybe all my time driving Shadowfast I preferred fold up maps to bound book-like road atlases. They just seemed more practical for a lone wolf such as I usually was in my road treks. And for harrowing circumstances. Much later, as my automotive experiences became far more sedate, I began using atlases.

Old supercar collection of folding road maps

Above can be seen some of my old road maps collection. For quite a while I deemed unfolding maps more useful than bound atlas type guides.

Old supercar hiking compass

Shadowfast's original hiking compass is shown above. It still works today, but sort of wobbly, as some of the fluid keeping the needle free-floating seems to have leaked or evaporated or something over decades. I placed it near a road map for size comparisons. In the old days the compass had a string loop attached to it so it could hang around my neck.

Firearms, ammo, and the knowledge and practice necessary to use them in case all else fails. Note that carrying firearms in your car circa 2005 may be illegal in many states. Here I'm just discussing what at times was carried in Shadowfast when I owned him, decades back. I personally prefered a pump shotgun and revolver for my own ultimate defense purposes in the car. The pistol was stainless steel, partly for maintenance reasons and partly to make sure people clearly saw it when I wielded it-- which hopefully made them respond as desired much more quickly, thereby avoiding making me actually pull the trigger.

Note folks you should never ever point a firearm at anything you don't intend to shoot, and never shoot at anything unless you mean to hit it.

And all firearms should always be considered to be loaded and dangerous during handling.

I highly recommend all firearms owning families train all members in safe firearm handling and shooting at the earliest possible age, plus do periodic refreshers of same for all.

Snub nose pistols of good-sized caliber are pretty much close-in weapons-- like arm's length to 10 yards or so at most. The shot gun would cover that range and much more, especially depending on what type ammo you equipped it with.

The pistol was a 38 Special snub nose I could carry in a pants pocket if needed.

The shotgun was a Remington 870 12 gauge pump with short slug barrel and a rifle-like sight. The ammo magazine was about the same length as the barrel if I recall (I made changes in my personal armament after parting with Shadowfast).


(these arms used in Breaking up, Ring of fire and What goes around...)

I had formal firearms training in US Army ROTC in college. I also undertook training from various reference books on my own, much as I did with my expert driving techniques. And I periodically did target practice with the weapons-- although the significant cost of ammunition and the annoyance of cleaning maintenance made me try to maximize the cost-effectiveness of each and every session.

A hunting session every now and then helped too.

I kept an elastic ammo holding sock on the shotgun stock with something like four or five rounds always handy there. I tended to only load both guns as needed.

College ROTC training certificate

Above is a scan of my ROTC completion certificate. I've blacked out certain info here that I consider privacy sensitive.

When I carried the guns in Shadow I also carried extra ammo for same.

My scramble vest of course was always in the car whether the guns were or not, and held maybe a bit less than a couple dozen rounds (under one dozen for the pistol, and under one for the shotgun).

Old ammunition for the 38 caliber revolver once carried in the Shadowfast supercar

Above can be seen what remains of the original 38 Special pistol ammo from Shadow's onboard supply. I changed pistol preferences after Shadowfast's demise, and so never used any more. I was actually surprised to find these rounds still here. Alas, I used up all my 12 gauge shotgun slugs long ago-- so there's no samples here to show you of those.

Old military surplus ammo boxes once used in the Shadowfast supercar

I'm pretty sure these are the two original US military surplus ammo boxes carried in Shadowfast. I say pretty sure rather than certain because I've owned quite a few of these babies. The larger box usually contained Shadow's main ammo supply, for dipping into after the three handfuls available in my shotgun stock sleeve and scramble vest were already spent.

But my main ammo store was a US military ammo box labeled "105 CAL. 50" containing maybe 200 rounds altogether of useful ammo for the weapons.

A smaller 7.62 mm box usually contained my main flare gun and pen flares, plus a few other emergency items. I only moved the flares from the ammo box to my scramble vest when I was expecting trouble.

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The small flares box also doubled as a backup scramble kit in case I lost access to my vest in a crash or whatever. It could also supplement the scramble vest with its supply of flares, if those flares hadn't been transferred beforehand.

Flare device
Marine-type flare guns or pen-like devices capable of firing 2000 degree magnesium flares (used in Breaking up, Ring of fire, Over the edge, What goes around..., and Nowhere to go but up). So what on Earth might a land-based automobile driver want with marine flares? Well, their main purpose of distress signalling might serve the user at some point even on a continent-- with the caveat of its fire-starting potential of course.

But basically I considered the things a non-lethal alternative to true firearms for some circumstances. Having the capacity to throw fireballs around can serve you handily when you need a mighty distraction or surprise. And of course in the proper environment you can use them to quickly ignite raging fires. Heck, even fire fighters in some instances fight fire with fire by controlled burning of a strip of woods ahead of an approaching forest fire, in order to stop the wild fire in its tracks.

Flare guns and pens also appeared radically different from mainstream firearms, helping add to the surprise of their use. And all this stuff was legal and easy and cheap to buy too-- at least back in my supercar days. Not nearly as big a problem as true firearms.

Being the prudent person I am I did NOT let stuff like this accompany Shadowfast when I sold him. Rather, I kept it myself. However, I found my need for flares and lots of ammo post-Shadowfast and other high risk projects to quickly become negligible, and so many years after my Shadowfast days I finally decided my stock was getting too old and maybe likely to spontaneously explode or catch fire, and took it all to the local police department for what I hoped would be proper disposal. You should have seen their faces! Ha, ha. I specifically warned them about the pen-type flares, in case they weren't familiar with them. To tell you the truth I was so concerned about getting caught with all that stuff walking up to the courthouse before I could turn it in that I phoned first for permission, then also walked in empty-handed, to again verify it was OK for me to carry in such stuff after I arrived. But I don't think the officers fully realized what I was bringing in, or the quantity. Good thing I wasn't a bad guy! To my mind they were too lax on security there. Of course, they were all armed-- but that wasn't doughnuts I was carrying either!

High-powered handheld spotlight. Powered by a cigarrette lighter plug (while we're on the subject having more than one cigarrette lighter plug installed in a car can be handy in itself-- expecially if you don't smoke). I've seen times when circumstances placed a car's main headlights out of action at night and a spotlight allowed the vehicle to continue at a decent if somewhat reduced speed. Very very few flashlights can be substituted for this, due to weaker and briefer duration beams. (used in Over the edge).

Spotlights are also handy for investigating matters at night to which your headlights cannot be easily directed. Ergo, the reason police cars for many years had such spotlights mounted on a windshield corner post. Heck, I considered such permanent mounting myself on Shadow, but dismissed it as problematic for several reasons.

Spotlights can also be used defensively to blind a foe. At least if the light use comes unexpectedly. The downsides to spotlight use (and multiple lighter plugs) is the drain on your electrical systems. Especially for a car already using a long battery cable like Shadow. Stuff like this is one reason I designed Shadow to accommodate two batteries rather than merely one (but I never did get around to actually carrying two with me ($50 to $60 for a redundant battery was fairly costly for me back then)). Another possibility may have been a more heavy duty alternator, like those often used for police cars. Unfortunately it's no free lunch with those things: they create a somewhat bigger horsepower drain on your motor to provide that extra juice. So basically I would have been trading speed for electricity there.

Low to medium wattage 12 volt trouble-light. Ideally capable of being powered by either a cigarrette lighter plug or direct connections to the terminals of an auto battery. Sometimes you need lengthy periods of basic lighting for car repair in the field. And you may be unable to keep your car running during such lighting use. 12 volt trouble-lights with moderate power consumption bulbs will last a lot longer than spotlights under such conditions, and offer you better positioning options too in some cases. Being powered by your car's large battery, they'll be a bigger help for a longer period than most conventional flashlights could be too. (used in Deep in the throat of Texas).

180 degree rear view mirror vision. Purpose: Early warning system regarding pursuit and/or other adverse conditions developing behind you. (used in Deep in the throat of Texas, Over the edge, What goes around..., and Nowhere to go but up). Wide-angle rear view mirrors are likely much more widespread in 21st century cars than they were in the 1970s. But in Shadow's time they really were relatively rare. At least the sort of mirror I had in Shadow. I can only recollect seeing mirrors like Shadow's in person in just two cars while I owned him: a bonafide stock car being built for a major regional race track (where I got the idea) and then in Shadow himself, after I found and bought him one at a hot rod shop.

Of course not just anyone would want a mirror like this in their car as it looks way too extreme. About three feet long or more, with five separate mirrors embedded along its length at varying angles (I think it was five: but it was a long time ago).

There were several times the mirror allowed me to avoid pretty bad accidents when I saw them coming at me from behind. But it still more often warned me of other undesirable conditions, allowing me to take evasive actions so early on pursuers frequently lost me immediately after first sighting me-- and couldn't figure out where the heck I went. You see, I often spied potential pursuers behind me at almost the same moment they did me. For my mirror gave me that power. I also retained my side mirrors for supplements and checked all of them regularly. Shadow did have one bad design flaw from the factory in the form of two huge blind spots in his rear quarter panels. Some earlier model Shelby Mustangs addressed this by inserting windows in those spots. But I don't think it would have been very easy or practical to do this with Shadow.

Note that great rear vision is so important that luxury vehicles today (2005) often mount a camera in the back to feed a video monitor in the driver's dashboard.

A mobile bunker driving mirror is something I considered but never got around to adding. Basically it would have been a single long mirror or mirror-finish metal strip running across the vehicle ceiling, but hidden when not deployed. It'd be configured like a hinged flap across the headliner of the car. If you found yourself in a storm of bullets as you were driving you could release the spring-loaded flap which instantly sprang open and against some bumpers behind it to take a position of 135 degrees removed from the horizontal plane of the roof (or 45 degrees, depending on whether you rotate backward or forward). You then would hunker down below the top edge of the dashboard and see to drive by peering upwards into the bunker mirror view. If properly positioned and sized, the bunker mirror would not only give you the forward view through the windshield, but the rear and side views too from the 180 degree rear view mirror discussed elsewhere.

Yes, there would be problems with such a setup. Which is why you'd want to use metal if possible (as bullets might shatter the glass). If your car had a full racing harness you couldn't slide down nearly as far in the seat. And other issues as well. But in certain cases this thing might save your life, even by working for only a minute or two.

A metal mirror suitably polished or chromed works pretty well, reflection-wise.

An emergency remote starting button (a.k.a. panic button) is something a lot like a gun: you rarely need it unless you're out looking for trouble; but when you do need it, you need it bad (used in Deep in the throat of Texas).

In the 21st century quite a few cars may have remote starting options from the factory. But in the 1970s this seemed exceedingly rare. Retrofitting a car like Shadowfast with such a thing can be somewhat difficult, but not impossible. The main trick was in choosing just exactly what tasks you wanted done in a hurry when the button was pushed. For me, plain starting and automatic unlocking of both doors from possibly as far away as 20 yards was plenty.

Note if you try doing your own home-made version of this you better think through all the possibilities: after all, you don't want a lot of accidental triggerings of this thing at the wrong times. So multiple fail-safes are required. Not the least of which on your control device itself (so the button isn't pushed by simple tumbling around in your pocket, etc.). For most folks I'd recommend using a factory-made device or otherwise having experienced automotive customizers do it for you.

The best place for your control seems to be attached to your normal key-chain, with a possible back-up device actually mounted in a hidden or disguised spot on the car itself. CAVEATS: If discovered by or revealed to others these things make your car easier to steal. Accidental triggerings when the motor's already running can damage parts. It's easy to allow the batteries to go dead in these things as they're so rarely needed (in which case they can't work when you do need them). Using power locks from junked luxury cars to unlock the doors saves some work, but also adds weight and additional power requirements. I recommend fixing them so they only UN-lock rather than lock the car, too. Modern locking key fob conveniences not-withstanding.

Smoke bombs can serve several purposes, one being part of a fake crash kit. That is, you can set up a scene to make it look like you or someone else went off a bank or shallow drop off, with the smoke bomb aiding the scene creation. Sprinkling broken safety glass and odd pieces of twisted chrome trim and maybe a few shards of red tail light glass on the road also contribute well to such a hoax. The real show stopper though is a fake body-- which is easy enough to make but really shouldn't be used except for the most extreme of circumstances. I mention crafting fake road hazards from foam rubber elsewhere on the page. Same goes here. Only when clothed the form won't compress down nearly as much as otherwise for storage.

Stink bombs, firecrackers, fast-drying glues, water to contaminate gas tanks, strong ropes or metal cables and padlocks to lock down certain items or vehicles, good knives to cut fan belts or hoses, etc. could all prove useful in derailing pursuit vehicles in various ways.

Note one great use for a steel cable equipped with suitable spring-loaded hooks or carabiners etc., is to string it between a couple trees or posts to block a rural road entrance behind you, with a little "KEEP OUT" sign hanging from its middle. The sign itself should look old and weather-beaten but still legible, for best effect. Often this maneuver will give pause to or confuse even pursuers who are somewhat familiar with the local roadways-- at least for a while. And even if they see through it they'll have to take the time required to get their car past it, depending upon how you positioned and fastened it.

Relatively expensive booster cables are (or used to be) a must for serious driving treks. I learned early in the game to go with quality in this department, even though it did cost more. Boosting other folks off is often a nice and low cost good samaritan regular thing you can do with these too. Anyone making lots of custom mods to their car design like I was will find themselves needing a boost too more often than average folks. Having your own booster cables handy will make it much easier to obtain such help. CAVEAT: There were a few isolated incidents where my boosting other folks off actually sucked my own battery completely dry of juice. Shadow was a little more vulnerable to this than other cars due to his extra long battery cable to the battery mounted amidships, and the perhaps other unusual electrical burdens on his system due to various modifications. But I believe the worst cases involved boosting folks in a hurry who'd already drained their own batteries completely dead. And maybe boosting them without Shadow running, too. I learned that it was best to let Shadow run and recharge the dead or near-dead battery for at least several minutes before any start was attempted, and under no circumstance allow the other car to start off Shadow's battery when Shadow himself wasn't running. At least all that's according to what I recall. It was long long ago! (used in Deep in the throat of Texas).

An air pump and air gauge for inflating tires and general maintenance and repair chores. Nowadays drivers can buy nice cheap 12 volt air compressors for this. But I used a hand pump in Shadow. Something like an old-fashioned bicycle tire air pump. I had an excellent pen-type gauge too. (used in Deep in the throat of Texas).

A small gas-powered chain saw can be used to actually fell trees to block the road behind you. In the country around my hometown pranksters do this for fun on important roads around Halloween and maybe other holidays. Such saws are handy for other things too of course.

Tow ropes once carried in the Shadowfast supercar

Above can be seen Shadowfast's original two tow ropes as described in several accounts on-site. I gave them to my dad after selling the car. They continue to be used for various purposes on occasion even now, decades after they once made up a vital part of Shadowfast's battle gear.

Two 18 feet long heavy duty tow ropes with big steel hooks on the ends are handy for lots of things, from pulling felled trees around, to pulling your own car or others out of ditches, etc. (used in Too close for comfort, Deep in the throat of Texas and Over the edge).

A come-along. Non-hill-billies or those without construction or off-roading experience might not know what this is. Basically it's a winch that's hand-driven, and useful for moving things as heavy as cars around in otherwise unpowered situations. But users need to be as careful with these things as chain saws, as even steel cables can snap under big loads and shear off limbs, and the gears in a come-along will gladly chew wandering fingers right off. (used in Too close for comfort, Over the edge). In my ongoing effort to post photos of original Shadowfast equipment I asked my brother if that come-along might still be around (I gave it to him after I no longer had Shadowfast). He told me it was a Sears Craftsman come-along (I couldn't remember the make) and that once when he loaned it to a friend the come-along got stolen out of the friend's truck. So alas, there'll be no pic of that! I was a bit surprised to learn I'd had a Craftsman come-along though-- as in those days Craftsman tools cost significantly more than others, and although I tried to buy Craftsman where I could, it seems an actual come-along of that brand would have been living pretty high on the hog at the time. I guess either I found a great deal on it, or just happened to be flush with cash at the time of purchase.

Folding shovel once carried in the Shadowfast supercar (folded)

Shadowfast's original fold-up steel shovel (folded position)

Folding shovel once carried in the Shadowfast supercar (unfolded)

Shadowfast's shovel unfolded, but not tightened. A rotating sleeve can lock the shovel into either of its two configurations.

A shovel. I used a nifty folding steel shovel in Shadowfast, as the rarity of usage and other factors made carrying a full-size version impractical. Of course, if you find a need for substantial digging you might soon wish you'd brought the full-size edition instead. However, my little fold up did a damn fine job considering its size in more than one situation (used in Over the edge). Note that both the shovel and hatchet also make worthwhile contingency weapons against many sorts of vermin.

A hatchet. Handy for cutting brush and small trees down to use for cover for your vehicle, or chopping ice, and various other useful camping chores. Lots smaller and lighter than a full-fledged axe for car transport too. Somewhat related to this would be a machete or Gurkha knife. I always planned to try out a Gurkha knife as replacement for both the hatchet and machete (to lighten the equipment load) but never got around to it. (used in Over the edge).

Two or three different types and lengths of rope. These were in addition to the massive tow ropes listed before (used in Over the edge). I kept one 100 foot plus length of three-eighths inch diameter nylon rope and one 30 foot plus length of one quarter inch in Shadowfast. Besides securing loads, they were also useful for climbing, improvisation, etc. I can't recall the rated loads now, but they were pretty good. The shorter and smaller diameter yellow propylene I think was marine use rated (lengthy use in wet conditions). Note these were general purpose, economical ropes; for regular mountain-climbing or other specific duties there were and are today much better specialty choices available.

Bolt cutters to get past chained or padlocked gateways.

A piece of original rope carried in the Shadowfast supercar

I believe this to be a remnant of Shadowfast's original 100 foot plus coil of 3/8 inch diameter nylon rope. Over time the rope got cut up for various purposes.

Lacquer thinner is handy if toxic stuff to have around the garage or workshop, and somewhat hazardous to carry around in a car but maybe for in small amounts in well sealed and sturdy containers. This stuff quickly and easily dissolves lots of decals and stickers which might be found on various glass or metal surfaces like license plates or windows. It probably removes paint too, but I don't think I personally ever used it for that. We sometimes used it to remove car-related gunk from our hands we could be rid of no other way (2005 UPDATE: Washing hands with lacquer thinner is probably hazardous and should be avoided. END UPDATE.). Use your imagination to determine how easy decal/sticker removal can trip up various authoritarian elements in your vicinity.

Tire-filling foam to inflate tires with leaks so bad plain air won't do the job.

Large cheap sketchpads and thick-tipped markers are handy for communicating with nearby cars on the road, such as when you're involved in a convoy and have no radio comm with the other car. You can write stuff on the pads and hold it up to a window. This can also be done directly on the windows with things like grease pencils, but in that case must usually be done in reverse by the writer to make it easier for readers.

The original Shadowfast supercar United States Geological Survey (USGS) map collection

Above can be seen many of the original USGS maps sometimes used for navigational purposes in Shadowfast and other projects. A few particular maps were used more often then others and so folded up and stored in plastic baggies in my scramble vest. Above can be seen one still in its baggie from decades back.

The original military surplus wool blanket carried in the Shadowfast supercar

Above is the original green wool blanket carried in Shadowfast (I believe it was military issue, bought at a surplus store).

Money order for maps

Above is one money order stub relating to one order of USGS maps in those days. I've blacked out info I consider to be privacy-sensitive.

Expertly chosen hiking and camping gear in case you must wait out an enemy in the wilderness. As you're unlikely to get stuck in a place well known to you, you'll hopefully have something like a USGS map by which to find your way out, if you're forced to hike to safety. As you can't afford to carry a whole array of maps with you (and won't have time to sort through them), getting just one or two or three of scales large enough to include the region you might get trapped in, but small enough so they're still useful to a hiker, will be best. (used in Over the edge). 2005 UPDATE: Modern hikers may sometimes use GPS navigation devices to find their way via satellite signal. Just keep in mind that at least some GPS units are trackers too-- that is, people can also use your GPS unit to find you. END UPDATE.

The first scramble vest used in the Shadowfast supercar (military surplus)

Above can be seen the original military scramble vest I used with Shadowfast, before I found the need to replace it with something better.

The final scramble vest used in the Shadowfast supercar (hunting vest)

Above can be seen the original hunter's vest with which I replaced the military vest among Shadowfast gear.

Hunting or survival vest. (used in Breaking up, Over the edge, What goes around..., and Nowhere to go but up). For a while I used a green webbed survival vest from Army or Air Force surplus for this, which also sported a built-in leather holster for a pistol. It offered tons of little button-down pockets which I packed with items that might be useful for hiking or plain dire straits.

The idea was a combination impromptu hiking vest and 'scramble' kit.

But I had no end of trouble with this thing. It was awful and impractical for the very things I bought it for. I guess many soldiers would like to throw the thing as far away as they could. Maybe the open webbing might help keep you cool in an extended high speed retreat across country, or the green helped camouflage-wise in hiding, but that's about it. I stopped using the holster part when my pistol fell out at a pretty bad moment and I almost wasn't able to retrieve it. There was no real practical way to use the zillions of pockets unless you had memorized where certain items were and always made sure to install them into the proper pockets upon replenishment. Of course if you're on the run and hurriedly recharging your vest stash in an enemy stronghold you don't have time for etiquette nonsense and fastening and unfastening a multitude of little pockets. Heck, most of the pockets were so small you had to properly process or prepare many items before they could even be stored away there! Yikes!

Then one day I found a hunting vest laying in the road, on a remote stretch of rural highway. Being a poor junkstormer as well as curious, I stopped and retrieved it.

It was apparently a brand new hunting vest which had been abandoned due to being sprayed by a skunk on its first outing. But after being discarded it'd laid out in the open being alternately rained on and sunshined on, as well as getting a good airing out for days before I found it. So the stink was almost entirely gone. One normal machine washing got rid of the rest.

I was amazed at the difference in functionality between the military vest and the hunting vest. All other things being equal, an army using the US surplus military vest against one using the US hunting vest wouldn't have a chance.

The hunting vest only had three pockets but they were pretty roomy. Only two had flaps, and none had fasteners of any sort. There was a zippered place on the back where maybe a game bag had once been, but I don't think that was present when I found the vest. There were elastic loops on the front to keep shotgun shells handy, as well as a shoulder pad for firing comfort.

I switched to the hunting vest from the military vest and never looked back. Oh sure, the military vest looked much cooler, but the hunting vest actually worked. Yay!

On high risk runs I typically kept the hunting vest draped backwards over Shadow's passenger seat, with items I deemed most potentially useful to me then in the nearest side pocket. That way I could simply reach over and grab a flare gun or various other items.

If forced to abandon the car I could simply grab the vest and run, and still be equipped with a nice collection of gear for what came next.

Sherpa guides. Well, not Sherpas exactly (Sherpas are famous for guiding people up and down places like the Himalayas), but a good local guide of some sort. I'm talking either a ride-along here during a particularly important or dangerous run in unfamiliar territory, or at least a hand-drawn map from such a source (which you verify with a trial run or two before the real thing) or a local to give you tips about a course beforehand. Certain bits of local knowledge can save your butt in a pinch. (used in Nowhere to go but up).

Emergency tire chains. These were good for more than just ice and snow. The need for them was rare: but when you needed them, you needed them badly. (used in Over the edge).

Roughly a fourteen to sixteen inch long, one to two inch thick piece of heavy electrical cable. I found several occasions when this came in handy, kept underneath the driver's seat. Among other things, it can help to fend off surprise assaults by overly aggressive dogs, or beat or bend something back into place on your vehicle after an encounter with an unexpected hazard. A mini-crowbar can do much the same things, but the smaller diameter and lack of cushioning is harder on the hands, as well as any auto body parts with which it may come into contact. I think my electrical cable was a gift of scrap or leftovers from my friend's dad's electrician's business. (used in Slip, sliding away, Deep in the throat of Texas and What goes around...).

The original emergency tire chains carried in the Shadowfast supercar

Above can be seen one wheel set of Shadowfast's original tire chains. I included both sets in the sale of a car (not Shadowfast) to one of my brothers many years ago. The whereabouts of the other set is now unknown.

Blackout spray paint for the headlights of pursuit vehicles (to be applied on foot if possible when the cars are parked; the same flat black carried around for Shadow touch ups worked fine for this, though sometimes a headlight needs wiping off before the color will stick). The paint won't allow the headlights to work and may be a nifty surprise for anyone after you after dark. NOTE: White or light gray paint may actually be a slightly better choice for this, as headlights painted those lighter colors may not be noticed as quickly in daylight by their drivers as having been neutralized. But I personally rarely had white or gray paint handy in the trunk. END NOTE.

Emergency food and water. I guess that sounds like odd stuff to carry around in a street car which rarely left the highway. But it proved important on more than one occasion in real life (used in Deep in the throat of Texas, Ring of fire, and Over the edge).

The water usually consisted of a filled US Army surplus canteen for drinking, and one or two re-used one gallon anti-freeze jugs worth for Shadow's radiator. The anti-freeze jugs were handy for this because their caps sealed well for a bouncy environment like a car trunk.

Be sure never to keep drinking water in an anti-freeze jug. Anti-freeze is deadly poison.

I also had a high end survivalist water filter about the size of a medium-sized coffee thermos (or my mini-fire extinguisher), and a small bottle of water purification tablets I could elect to carry onboard-- but in practice almost never did.

You had to replace the water in the canteen on a regular basis as it would sort of sour if you didn't.

Once, I got caught with a radiator problem and water shortage some distance away from civilization and had to use urine to tide the car over coolant wise until I could get to something better (yes, that will work-- or at least would on older cars like that discussed here).

The emergency food supplies usually consisted of only something like a half-dozen small cans of beans or chili or veinna sausages or the like. Something which would keep for quite a while inside the car in hot weather or cold without going bad or leaking, and be at least somewhat palatable and nutritious even eaten cold and with no other preparation but simply opening the container. For a period I used US Army surplus field rations I believe. The biggest onboard food supply I ever carried at once was an entire small case of pork and beans the first time I went to Texas (that case ended up feeding me and two other guys at least a week, maybe two).

Canned food with water inside can burst upon freezing in winter time-- so that must be kept in mind when stocking up. If memory serves careful selection from Army rations could provide you with various canned foodstuffs where there was no significant water content, and thus better for winter storage than some other items.

Small cans can be heated up pretty well on a running car's hot intake manifold-- though it may be advisable to punch or otherwise create a small hole in the can's top first to avoid a surprise blow out, mess, and possible scalding. It's actually been so long since I did that I'm fuzzy on the details now. Just be careful!

A minimum of two camouflaged covers or tarps big enough to cover the entire car. These can double as makeshift camping tents too. I say two of these because often it may be necessary to use one as a ground sheet for camping, or to lie on under the car for repair work while the other is used for concealment. Another reason to have at least two is so one can be an Army-type jungle or woodlands camo pattern (or plain medium to dark green color), while the other can be a more straw-colored neutral pattern, suitable for blending into field grass. The field color may need to be changed with the season or the type of fields the local terrain typically sports.

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My personal favorite in this vein was the great boulder cover, which could mask Shadow as a huge rock smack in the middle of nothing and nowhere-- no buildings, no trees, no tall grass, etc. But the boulder cover is much more work than the others, both in preparation and set up/take down.

I'm an artist, handy with brush or air brush, so I could render the paint on my own cover for the boulder look. Keep in mind this entails a LOT of paint over a huge surface, plus considerable trial and error in getting it suitably realistic from a distance.

This boulder cover also has to be 50% to 80% bigger in square footage than the other covers, due to the need for even the car's shape itself to be changed. A big rock shaped just like your car won't fool a helicopter searcher.

In the seventies there were far far fewer law enforcement or security force helicopters running around than there are in the 21st century. In the seventies you had to have done something pretty bad or outrageous to have such airborne searches being done for you specifically.

So how do you change the shape of your car under the cover? This is another place those fake fold-up road signs come in handy. With proper placement on or about your car under the cover, your distinctive shape will be significantly obscured.

Massive somewhat irregular chunks of lightweight foam rubber you can carry around squashed into tiny volumes but spring to full size once unconfined also help a lot in this shape changing under the cover. In the old days such material was easily found in old cheap bed pillows, couch cushions, and similar places. It could be cut into all sorts of shapes and glued together easily (but not all glues are equal for this task). If I remember correctly though this stuff was readily flammable too. So it couldn't be stored just anywhere.

You also MUST tie down the cover securely, making it as taut as possible. For a rock flapping or shivering in the breeze won't fool anyone. This means your boulder cover must be equipped with strategically placed grommets (not merely holes punched with a sharp instrument-- those will lead to your downfall). And you must have tie down provisions which themselves are camouflaged. Bright yellow tent tie downs won't do it. It's best not to use really dark stuff like black either in most locales. A medium gray or green or brown is usually OK.

BUT...as I said, the boulder thing is much more work than the others. You can't expect to improvise the set up when it's really needed. Use of the boulder cover must be done with quite a bit of precision. Which means you must actually figure out ahead of time exactly what configuration of props and tie downs you will use. And stick to this plan any time the boulder maneuver is utilized. Note you'll usually have nothing else to tie the cover to but the car itself. So you may have to install some permanent attachments to facilitate the process. It may also be necessary to set up ways to at least partially fasten in place your shape-changing gear (other than using the tautness of the cover itself I mean).

Note that depending on the tightness of body seams and how thin your gear is in certain places, you can actually have rectangular or triangular catches attached to straps or ropes of your cover, which themselves (the catches) can be easily, quickly, and securely hooked around corners like those of trunk lid or hood.

It's best to have all the tie down rigging already knotted to the grommets in the cover, and a small tag attached or marking in that part of the cover instructing you where to tie it to on the car.

Such easy instructions should also be present on the fold up road signs and other shape-changing gear.

Even if you've got all this properly prepared and you've practiced a few times, it's very difficult to unpack and set up all this stuff alone in less than twenty or thirty minutes. So keep in mind there's no use in even making the attempt if you haven't got that minimum time available.

So these boulder covers may be more often useful for sneaking into a big place, than later evasion and escape. I.e., Say you have a government or private base with a huge expanse of territory around it, which offers little other opportunity for hiding or disguising your vehicle. And it's known that aerial or long distance visual surveillance is performed during the day. You could move closer by night and rest and hide as a boulder during the day...Of course, any observer who's well familiar with the terrain and attentive might still catch you. But in my experience such security guards are pretty lax in their duties. Something pretty much has to jump out and grab them to get their attention.

With the boulder cover you jump them at your convenience rather than theirs.

Of course circa 2005 big companies and government agencies have lots more options security-wise due to technology. So the boulder cover wouldn't work nearly as well today in many places as during the seventies.

Rolling all the way down a window prior to set up may allow you to enter and exit the car afterwards by carefully making your way under the cover and using that open window for access. Such access will be easiest if you originally planned for it by using your shape-changer orientations to accomodate it under the cover. However, if you consider the risk of discovery acute, you're best advised to basically camp out inconspicuously some distance away from the vehicle itself. This gives you a better chance to observe your surroundings and either make a break for it on foot or pull off the camo cover quickly and use the car again; whichever looks most advisable. In a fast getaway you'd need a sharp knife handy to cut all the tie downs loose.

Want to know more about exactly how and why I went the gadget and accessories route with Shadow that I did? Then CLICK HERE.

The final fate of Shadowfast and his various real-life gadgets and accessories.

As related in Nowhere to go but up I sold Shadowfast basically for parts after our final run together. For I was tired of driving and Shadow surely tired of supercar derring-do. Plus Shadow would simply have required an almost total revamp by that point to continue on. Much deeper drivetrain work than I'd done before, as well as much else. Simply to get back to where he was before. Considerable new investment of both time and money would have been involved.

Basically though, I just no longer wanted to drive. And couldn't see much point in continuing such pursuits. Maybe because I was getting older, I guess.

I warned the buyer about safety hazards present in Shadow as I sold him. And also unloaded and maybe even disassembled any outlaw gadgets still present on the car before I sold it.

I kept virtually everything of Shadow's accessories which wasn't an essential part of average car ownership. Or at least those which hadn't previously been lost along the way due to theft, attrition, or destruction.

So I likely let Shadow go with a spare tire and jack, but not with things like flare guns, tow ropes, tire chains, etc.

But still I no longer required most of my surviving Shadow gear for the autos I possessed after that. So over time I dispersed the gear among family to where I thought various elements might get the most use.

Shadow's alter ego the ancient VW beetle I eventually gave to my dad and brother, who played with it a while and then sold or traded it for something else. My tire chains ended up accompanying a later Firebird I owned to first one brother, then another, then a third, as all three got a chance to drive the Pontiac in their turn. The tow ropes were turned over to my dad.

A few items remained in my personal possession either because no one else had a good use for them, or I felt I might later on.

And some things such as the scramble vests, Army blanket, USGS maps, and various camping gear I used on projects after Shadowfast-- losing some of it to attrition and theft over the years in those later ventures.

A few items like the firearms I eventually replaced with tools more suitable to my later circumstances. After all, a snub nose 38 special and slug barreled 12 gauge pump were far more suitable for battle than more peaceful conditions.

Some items I honestly have no idea what happened to them. It's been a pretty busy several decades, after all!

If you'd prefer to see all of Shadowfast's technical details in ebook form, Dark Horse: The Official Shadowfast Supercar Technical Reference is now available for any Amazon Kindle or Kindle app.

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