Fiberglass Cars and Repairs

Fiberglass is a plastic which is fiber-reinforced using glass fiber. The advantage of using it on cars is that it’s light, tough, inexpensive and rust proof.

The few of the cars with fiberglass bodies include the Chevrolet Corvette as well as the Lotus Daimler and the Rochdale, in addition to several British sports cars.

There are also fiberglass kit cars out there, you will be hard pressed to find a metal kit car.

The Glasper

The cars aren’t completely plastic, they do include items like a metal chassis for example.

Glaspar 2

Using fiberglass has a long pedigree, all the way back to 1951, the first one being the Glaspar 2, built by an engineer more used to creating fiberglass goats, for example the Green Dolphin in 1947.

Fiberglass was known as glass reinforced plastic and marketed as a wonder material so an ideal substance to use.

The Glaspar is a sports car with the chassis of a Willy’s Jeep mixed with a Ford V8. Maybe if it hadn’t gained coverage by Life Magazine it would never have had a run of manufacture by General Motors and have appeared in 1961’s LA Motorama.

Glasper himself went on to create more fiberglass vehicles such as the Lancer and Skorpion, but they didn’t do so well.

Looking for an alternative to Metal

At the time Ford was also looking for alternative materials for making cars such as soya-based products and hemp.

It’s easier to create a car in fiberglass than metal, especially those with complicated curves. It’s biggest selling point is a strong strength to weight ratio, in other words not that strong but strong with it. It’s also harder to paint metal than fiberglass. Applying the layers of fiberglass creates the expense.

There are other selling points in using fiberglass such as the reduction in noise and vibration, which may explain why it was used in sports cars.

Rochdale

It tends to be a product used more by the smaller car manufacturers than the big names out there. It could be possible soon to create a fiberglass car using nothing more than 3D printing.

Fiberglass can be used to create or recreate various car parts; getting a car back after a dent for instance or, failing that, giving the illusion it has. Using fiberglass resin saves an expensive car repair.

Working with Fiberglass

You can adapt a fiberglass mold for various car parts by flattening it slightly or making it taller. It can then be painted. Any particular part can contain up to 3 layers of epoxy resin. After five days the body mold will be cured and is safe to touch.

Any design should start with a drawing so make sure it is done correctly. It’s essential that you don’t pull the mold in only one direction. It’s not an exact science, many people make mistakes.

The disadvantage is that it’s itchy stuff to get on your skin and you don’t want to breath it in—EVER.

Fiberglass is also used in the rubber belts in the engine as well as the brake pads and clutch discs, even the automobile’s insulation.

Locating Missing Cars

Looking for a particular vintage or classic car, you can actually do worse than searching through local barns and under trees in some back-forty. Though they will invariably be found under a layer of muck, brush, or worse, they are there to be found. Believe it or not, people don’t always think to protect these gems in the way you might imagine. Some have been found in the oddest places.

The Dino

A Dino was reported stolen in December 1974. A Dino, for those of who don’t already know, is a real-wheel drive car that was produced by Ferrari between 1957 and 1976. The car’s name was the nickname for Alfredo Ferrari, the son of the venerable Enzo Ferrari. The Dino finally turned up when two young boys were digging in their garden. How it ended up there, no one knows.

The Bullitt Mustang

The stunt car from the original movie Bullitt disappeared not long after filming, turning up later in a scrapyard in Mexico. When found, it was hardly recognizable as a Mustang. It was riddled with holes, whether it was used for target practice or maybe as an object for someone drilling holes, it’s a mystery. Not even being in a movie was enough to keep it from being abandoned by its owner.

The Cuban Falconwing

A Mercedes Benz, a Gullwing (also known as a Falconwing due to how its doors open like wings of a bird), was reported missing in Cuba only to turn up in a lot far away. It then disappeared again, later turning up under the shade of a banana tree miles away. The most famous gullwing is probably the DeLorean, a model of car that never sold well, finally ending with hundreds of models being scrapped, sending the manufacturer into bankruptcy.

The Largest Barn-find

In another amazing barn find, over three hundred cars were found in a large barn in Europe. The collection began in the 1970s and included a Bizzarani, which was created in the 60s, a race car which had been entered in Le Mans. Created by a joint enterprise between Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, this car was considered to be ahead of its time, likely being the reason why it didn’t last long.

How to Make your Own Barn-find

If you want to make your own barn-find, start with some research. Talk with people from the older generation, especially those who live out in the sticks – there’s no use looking for barn finds in the middle of Chicago, Dallas, or Seattle. It’s best to network your target area. People like mail-carriers, hairdressers, delivery drivers, and established real-estate agents may be the ones you need to get the break you’re looking for. Attending a swap meet or local holiday celebration or parade might just turn up the connection you’re looking for – putting you on the trail of the next big find.

Sometimes it’s just serendipity. You see a farm, miles from anywhere, one with a dilapidated old barn out back – maybe they have gems they don’t realize are there. Not sure where to start, pull up Google Maps, find an out-of-the-way community, and hit the open road.

Getting Children Interested In Cars

There are hundreds of ways of getting children interested in cars. As may be understood if you regularly follow us, it leads to hundreds of careers and side projects – go karting or visiting a racetrack for instance. But it ultimately comes down to the child themselves.

We just wanted to point to some, in case you have some time off this Christmas and want to do something fun with your kids.

Lo Tech

There are many different craft videos out there, telling you how to make a car out of popsicle sticks or even matchboxes (the business Matchbox was named after the practice of homemade cars). For the more technically minded there are videos on making battery-powered toy cars and propeller cars. There are videos about general propulsion and how exactly they move designed for young minds.

Or you could choose one of the many balloon cars designs, whether out of cardboard or out of Lego. It teaches children about propulsion, as the balloon deflates the car goes faster. Or you use a zip line or rocket to propel it. Again, videos to make these items are available online with simple research.

Robot Cars:

There are several online challenges out there for those who wish to design their own. Robot cars can be customized into different designs and by following online guides, step by step instructions are needed to bring about positive results. An Arduino car for instance works through a USB and microcontroller. It creates its own path through obstacles.

An Elegoo robot car (as well as various robot tanks) can be programmed online via code. It could take some time to become an expert.

Remote Control Cars:

Remote control cars may be thought by some as yesterday’s toys by some but options include:

  • Those which can be controlled via Wifi
  • Those with a HD camera
  • Those which may be driven in all terrains

There’s even one made for the Nintendo Switch that works with VR (Virtual Reality) to impose a virtual racetrack onto your floor. You can drive the remote-control car around the virtual track and compete with virtual opponents.

There’s a range of colors too, including camouflage green and metallic blue.

Other ways to Play, er we mean Experiment…for education…

Even with regular toy cars your child can make ramps out of cardboard, wood or plastic. Sticking a block in the way in a car could teach about what forces cause a car to stop for instance. They can also alter the height and length of a ramp to see how fast a car goes when launched by gravity.

Another thing to look at is the size and weight of a car. Why do small cars start quicker but larger cars in the end go faster? They can also experiment on which surface works for the toy car.

There’s also the possibility of marking out a racetrack on the floor with colored masking tape. It comes down to how much mess you want your child to make!

Depending on the age of your child and the amount you’re able to be involved with the project the “shed projects” that involve building the car or obstacles before using them seem to fascinate more than the items you may find in the stores. However, both are useful if you want to teach about science and technology, or pass on your passion for cars to your own kids.

If your child doesn’t enjoy getting their hands dirty, there’s still encouraging your child to draw various types of cars and trucks, just whatever piques their interest. Car design is a great career and who knows where the next car startup will come from. If you get them to keep it up, you may have a genius on your hands. They’ll be working for Elon Musk – or one of his competitors – in no time. Maybe they’ll be the next Elon Musk?

Car Color Matters

When considering a new vehicle, we car guys (and gals) often consider key functionality.  Number of passengers, storage capacity, engine size and type, etc.  We do also choose color, but how much thought goes into that decision?

If you live in Arizona, for instance, a black or other deeply tinted color means that we will likely be running our air conditioners from about March through October.  We’ll have to be careful when opening the doors as the handles can reach ridiculous temperatures, and, unless we chose a light-colored interior, we’ll scald our hands on the steering wheel as well.  This is why most people in hot climates prefer lighter tones.

One must also consider their driving habits when choosing a color.  Bright, flashy colors like red, orange (okay, atomic tangerine), and bright yellow stand out and are easy targets for state troopers on the lookout to meet their citation quotas.  White, grey, and tan vehicles are much less often noticed and typically sail past a brightly colored version of the same car, idling by the road while the nice police officer writes them a $400 speeding ticket.

In some cases, insurance companies have been known to have differing rates based on the vehicle’s color.  While it is not generally a blatant question on a form, the vehicle’s color is identified by the manufacturer when it is receiving its VIN number.

So, whether you are buying a new or used vehicle, take a moment to consider the implications of the color options available.

Best of the Web: Car Toy Projects

Were coming out with our own story about toy cars that help you share your passion for cars with your kids. But we found this one and thought it was really good. So build a car with your kids and share something you love.

12 Self Propelled Car Projects & More

Welcome to make it move STEM challenges!  Our Summer STEM activities are all about things that go, move, fly, bounce, spin, and more. Use the materials you have on hand to invent your own simple machines designed to move in some way, shape, or form. Get ready to design, engineer, test, and re-test your own things that move with the following STEM activities for kids.

Link to original Story

Different Types of Car Jobs

Your ideal car job may involve racing round a track or chauffeuring a famous A-lister, but what other car jobs are there?

There are a huge number of driver jobs available. Many couriers are self-employed, as are Uber and Lyft drivers – working on behalf of other companies.  Some are employed chauffeurs or over-the-road semi drivers, pounding the pavement for a living.

An automotive technician looks at robotics, automotion, quality testing, and assembly planning.

They plan all aspects of the assembly, look at the tooling – how the car is built. There is a massive amount of analysis involved, sometimes a review of time and motion, sometimes to improve the quality of a vehicle’s safety system. This isn’t working on the factory floor, at least not all the time. 

Also attached to a factory is a sales manager specifically focused on fleet sales, more of a business-to-business salesperson.  They concern themselves with specialist accounts – like dump trucks, delivery vans, taxi cabs, police cars, and so forth.

A paint technician works with robotics to ensure the best kind of finish but is involved in all aspects of production which affect the car’s color palette.

A car fleet manager looks after a business’s fleet of company cars, checking in and checking out cars, and ensuring the proper use and maintenance of the vehicle.  They are responsible for ensuring that the vehicles are fit for sale once the company is through with them.

A used car stock preparation manager makes sure that the showrooms are fully stocked as well as updating digital sites – the virtual showroom. According to job specifications, this is more of a job for a people person rather than a consultant.

A diesel truck mechanic helps handle repairs of large transport vehicles, sometimes alone and others as a member of a team. The vehicles are typically handled in a large garage or maintenance yard.

Product owners of connected vehicles (those with driver connected applications/tools) look at the requirements of relevant businesses. What are their goals and how could connected vehicles help them? They liaise with different teams and work out what is feasible. There’s typically some involvement in business analysis.  They look at the requirements for each individual business as regards connective vehicles. Some experience in business analysis is required as you need to work out how the industry is fluctuating.

The After Sales Manager supports the customer after the sale takes place, checking in to see how they are enjoying their new vehicle, sometimes getting feedback about the purchasing process. They supervise the car after sales team and ensure they are competent and that they maintain customer service standards. They look at various marketing campaigns which focus on current owners.

When it comes to pit stop jobs (vehicle repair or maintenance shops) there are positions for tire carriers, tire changers, mechanics and so on, everything necessary to ensure the smooth operation of a mechanic’s ship. It’s definitely all about being a team player.

So, is your dream job listed above? Maybe you have found your secret vocation? Why not take time to apply or maybe take a training course to get you closer?

Foreign Pickup Trucks – Successes and Fails

Mercedes X-Class

What makes an ideal pickup truck to buy and what makes a truck that no one will buy?

Kei Truck

To look at the Kei Truck first; it is called a mini-truck, a very small, but practical, pickup truck. It is built very small and is classified as an ATV in some states. Subaru, Honda, and Suzuki, among others, manufacture the Kei Truck. It was developed from a three wheeled truck which could be seen in Japan even before WWII. It weighs less than a metric ton – about 1,500lbs (700Kg) and has a maximum speed of 75 mph. They are produced outside the US and are used in the fishing and construction industries. Unless you’re in one of a handful of states where they’re classified as an ATV, only Kei Trucks older than 25 years may be imported into the US.

The Isuzu V-Cross PCP is designed for both off-roading and traveling on country roads. There are several features you don’t immediately associate with a pickup such as leather seats, a gun-metal exterior, and heated front seats – just the thing for journeying through the colder states. There’s also a touchscreen and a back-up camera to aid your parking.

Unfortunately, a number of pickups didn’t succeed, like the Mercedes X-Class. This was only used between 2018 and 2020. Although Mercedes tends to make waves all over the car market this was a new area for them.  The engine had two different levels of power and had a design based on the Nissan Frontier. Ultimately it had some problems – it was tricky to turn, requiring an excess of 42 feet (13 meters) and was thought too expensive for most customers, not even reaching 17 thousand sales.

Did you know that a Toyota Hilux features in Back To The Future? If so, you are not alone. This bulky pickup has been available since 1968. It has “sports bars” at the front and a strong towing capacity at the back with the additional robust frame and why not take advantage of the cruise control and a collision prevention control. The music tech is also worth mentioning, the Smartphone integration. There are also test drive available from the website. 

The story of the Mahindra is a whole different affair. Its lack of fuel efficiency held it up during production, although it duped hundreds of US audio dealers into investment. The parent company, Global, was selling utility vehicles in 2004. It managed to obtain 350 potential buyers around this period. Unfortunately, it never got to launch.  Despite being planned for a number of years, the fuel emission certificate was only signed in 2011. Dealers paid to get the franchise but it all came to naught.  Several millions were syphoned into branding the product and even creating showrooms. The company later admitted the pressure was too great.

There are so many brilliant pickups out there it would be surprising if some different fall by the wayside. The working nature of the vehicle is important but so is comfortability and style.

Various Gear Sticks

How do you drive a stick shift car?

You’ll want to engage the services of an actual driving instructor to learn to drive, but here’s a simple description of the process. We’ll start off with the basics.

The neutral sign in the middle is surrounded by the numbers one to five and the R for reverse (sometimes there is a P instead for Parking). 1-2-3-4-5-R (or P) form an extra wide H shape with the N in the middle. (If their were only gears 1-3 and R you’d have an H.

Shifting into first

With the gear shift should be in neutral you must depress the clutch and the brake.

Turn on the ignition. If you are sure it’s in neutral take the parking brake off if it is on. Then check your mirrors and signal your intention.

After some moments keeping the brake with the right foot and the clutch with your left, move into first gear. Take your foot off the brake now. Slowly release the clutch while pressing down the accelerator pedal roughly equal to the release of the clutch. You’re now in first gear.

Going Up Gears

You probably need to go up a second gear to go faster than 10mph. You will repeat the left and right foot motion to go up a gear, but your car will be rolling forward as you do. Despite this, many people feel like starting from zero forward motion is the hardest part.

You probably change gear without thinking about it but the best way apparently is to cup the gear-shift (or lever), rather than swipe or thump it. It needs to be a conscious decision that you make. Unless the gear shift pedal is pressed down the gear stick shouldn’t move.

Note: shifting up or down is informal terminology. It is more formally called a transmission level.

If you do something like go over a bump or go downhill, you need to change to a lower gear. However, most people just put it in neutral or depress the pedal the whole way downhill. It’s a better idea to shift down on a downhill so you can more quickly re-engage the engine at the right power level, or if your brakes fail you can use the engine to slow your vehicle down.

Odd Shift Levers

Some cars like the Mercedes Benz 180 have a shifter sticking out of the steering wheel. The BMW and the Audi both use a joystick, while the Jaguar and Land Rover use a rotary shifter instead of shifting a stick. A push button gear stick is the rarest – you have to press the button to change them.

The Honda Odyssey has buttons on a central dashboard or console, usually where you have your entertainment system. It’s doubtful that most people would be comfortable using a crystal glass gear shaft used by the Volvo XC60 at least to start with but if you drove this type of car you would have to get used to it.

In the Lexus LC 500 the joystick matches the leather upholstery which again takes some getting used to.

The Hurst has a pistol grip which is a bit like a huge joystick, only cooler. The Chevrolet Camaro uses a horseshoe switch design which has a certain steampunk appeal, it doesn’t however look that practical. It is not clear immediately how you change gear or even how you get out of neutral as the only control seems to be only one switch.

Historic Types of Shifting

Many old trucks have the Reverse where 1st should be or way off to the left or right of the other gears. And many trucks were geared to be able to skip gears when the truck isn’t loaded or hauling a heavy trailer. But you are unlikely to run into such things.

Hardly anyone has driven a car with sliding mesh manual transmission which was the first way to change gear, the first car invented with gear in 1894. It only had three forward gears so parking was a problem. It slid left or right but the gearing unit was basically a rotational shaft which moves or “transmits” the power from one end to the other.  Luckily this has all changed.

Pros & Cons of Manual Cars

The transmission in a manual car is much simpler so it breaks down less and is cheaper to fix when it does. By the time your automatic transmission breaks down it’ll be hard to find a replacement. You’ll have to seek out one from a junk yard which will have some milage and age on it. So if you keep a car for several years, manuals are considered the better option.

On the other hand, if you drive in congested city traffic on a regular basis, operating a clutch gets really old, really fast. So it’s just a strategic choice.

One reason we included the “how tos” in this post is that it’s a good idea to know how to shift even when you have an automatic car. You’ll get a better understanding of how your car operates when you are accelerating, even though its doing it for you.

Climbing Cars

Can a jeep climb vertically up a cliff, say a sheer surface? A video showed one climbing up a cliff in Utah, though there are some viewers who believed it to be fake.

To perform this trick, you need considerable stunt knowledge. As it was performed in rainy conditions, reportedly this makes the job harder. It needs to be a 4×4 in order to maintain the required grip.

It’s so much easier at a smaller scale, hence the number of remote-control toys performing this type of stunt. When you scale things up you increase the numbers, but the gravity part of the equation doesn’t change.

Aerodynamics

Mini Cooper

Intuition says that rugged looking vehicles are best for a cross country adventure but aerodynamics are still vital to whichever car you choose to negotiate a mountain road. Weight, size and power all play a part. When it comes to climbing mountains, a sedan is too close to the ground for rocky areas, despite their smallness. Ironically, a compact, like the Mini Cooper, is useful as it is the right size to handle country roads and also an extensive trunk space for any mountain gear. Maybe it’s not going to dig you out of quick sand, but for the average logging road it should perform well.

How about SUVs or crossovers? Yes, they can get you up there but as with any mountain traverse it helps if you have some experience. Remember that driving on rocks and fields is much harder than driving on a road. And many SUV’s are intended to look like a mountain vehicle but suited only for the city.

Here are further cars suitable for a mountain drive – Mahindra Scorpio and Vitara Brezza.

The Mahindra has a brilliant red shade and is built for negotiating the toughest of rocky roads in all but the worst weather.

Suzuki’s Vitara Brezza has a similar scarlet colour and has enough suspension to deal with the bumps in the road as you edge towards the mountain’s peak.

Uphill Racing

Just outside Nice is the beautiful town of La Turbie, site of the first uphill race in the world, also known as speed hill climbing. The sport fell slowly out of favor in France but eventually it was revived in the 1980s. There have also been races in Austria (Gaisberg) and the UK (Harewood) and various locations in the US. There have been races as far afield as Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

Suzuki’s Vitara Brezza

Some races use racing cars while others use a kit car to race. There are smaller races out there which use everyday cars with some of them undergoing modification. The modification may be a roll cage or a rollover protection system which will protect the driver should the vehicle overturn. Sometimes cars are protected with the ability to prevent a rollover, such as anti-lock brakes and traction control, the kind of safety system you might need when negotiating a hill, but this goes against the spirit of hilltop driving.

The smaller races are in speed-trial format with competitors having two attempts to tackle the hill.

If you wish to explore the early days of hilltop driving, including pictures of the racers themselves you can do worse than browse specialist racing magazines like, Uphill Racers. Even the UK’s Stirling Moss, linked more to Formula One racing, has taken part in the hilltop driving culture. So, hilltop drivers are in good company.

General Motors Throughout The World

Detroit Renaissance Center

It should come as little shock that the biggest factory in Detroit, based in the Renaissance Center, belongs to General Motors but this isn’t their only plant. How much does it account for in the grand scheme of their manufacturing and just how did GM become such a major player?

Plant Locations:

There are hundreds of factories around the world employing tens of thousands of people. The size of the GM payroll and how widespread it is, could be a reason they’re a major player. Let’s take a closer look at some of these locations.

In the US:

There are more than 100 facilities in cities across the US, including Arlington and Bay City. Of specific note is the Cadillac. These include assembly plants as well as part stamping plants, propulsion component and battery plants. Most, however, are distribution centers. Still, they’re vital parts of the local economies as it gives smaller communities a tie into a global product.

In the internet age it’s hard to grasp how difficult it was for a smaller city to bring in big business with international sales. It took something that required a lot of parts and that sold all over the world in high volume. This could be one reason GM is considered a major player.

Equinox

The GM Defence Concord Facility makes vehicles especially for the army. They have a factory in North Carolina which was previously used to make Chevrolets. GM has a long tie with defense contracts which could be another reason they’re a major business.

Mexico

There are several factories in Mexico, including the Equinox and the Trax. Vehicles such as the Saab and the Oldsmobile used to be made in Mexico. They also make pickups and various other trucks.

Canada

1907 McLaughlin

The link between GM and Canada has a long vintage; all the way back to 1907 when McLaughlin and Buick were contracted to make Buick cars. After successfully making Buicks for several years McLaughlin sold Buick stock in order to obtain a foothold into GM stock. McLaughlin joined GM Detroit, forging a strong link.

The GM’s main center is called the Canadian Regional Centre and works with many countries around the world. Although you may hear of some factories closing, such as one in 2017 it still makes cars such as the Chevrolet and the Pontiac.

Brazil

’78 Opala

General Motors do Brasil began in 1925. It did final assembly from various parts imported from the US and was based in the city of San Paolo. The first car produced was an Opala, a type of Chevrolet.

One million Opalas were made in Brazil, and it was even used by the Brazilian police as well as the taxi service. The name comes from Opal, a German subsection of GM. The first version was a 4-door sedan and was available in “Especial” (Special) and “Luxo” (Deluxe).

Europe

In Europe the General Motors brand has been less than successful with names such as Opel and Vauxhall not actually capturing the public imagination. People seem to prefer the German cars-those being BMW, Merc and VW. The business was eventually sold to the PSA Group who own such names as Citroen and Peugeot.

This was GM cutting their losses—no real way to hide it – and what a loss. According to official figures the venture eventually lost $39 billion. Only a major player can lose $39 billion and survive.

China

In China things appear so much better with promising sales on Buicks, Chevrolets and Baojun and Wuling. Don’t recognize those last two? Don’t feel bad they’re clearly not available in your market. There are several other vehicles brands Westerners won’t recognize.

Baojun Advertisement

Wuling originally made very small vans until it joined with GM in 2002 where it began to manufacture small trucks as well.

Baojun was created a few years after Wuling (in 2010) with the goal to create what was known as “farmer’s cars.” It’s first vehicle looked like a cross between a Chevrolet and a Daewoo and the latest vehicle is a MPV – multi-purpose vehicle with seven seats. They have to their name, a number of crossovers, compacts, and electric vehicles. There are so many Baojuns out there that they could have their own article.

Wuling

If you own a new car in North America, South America or China then the chances are that it’s a General Motors vehicle. The magnitude of the company cannot be easily stated.

Editors Note: Here at the Kicker we’re working with the descendants of legendary Harley Earl to get a story about the early days of GM. His official story can be seen in the documentary, “Fins,” the making of which has tied up our dig into this era of GM (they had the exclusive scoop). But there is more to the story than the film reveals so we’ll be coming to you soon with more on the era of GM’s hay day.