What is it with America and Pickups?

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OP-ED by A. R. Bunch & P. Wimsett

When you talk about the all-American car you might picture the Cadillac, but really it’s the pickup.

pinup-girl-1967007_1920The American romance with a pickup began, no doubt, with our roots in farming. Actually a lot of the world has farms, but in America they’re spread out. The distance between farms and the condition of the roads are a factor when you have a lot of privately owned farms spread about the less populated areas. You need a vehicle that can transport a variety of goods for long distances but can also traverse rural roads. They are the successor to the horse and wagon really.

The original roads in America were long but incredibly muddy and full of potholes, so early features desirable in a truck were 4×4 and V8 power. The 8 valve engine allowed for power, and fast acceleration and it became the most commercially successful engine for decades.

classic-pickup-4215684_1920Could manufacturers have gone to V10? Sure but the added weight didn’t boost the power enough justify the added cost to build. The V12 did become a thing, but usually in sports cars, because the only reason for a vehicle to have 12 valves was for the smoother operation. If you needed more power than a V8 gas engine, then buy a V8 diesel.

As technology improved the power you could get per valve and gas prices climbed, we got the V6 truck and eventually the “four banger,” but that’s a topic for later in the post.

Why are Pickups more Popular than Ever?

Whereas the old pickup trucks which simply about basic transport, the modern type look more to luxury, one example being the GMC Canyon which Caranddriver.com believe the manufacturers have a model which “spruces up the interior and imbues the exterior with some bling.”

Clearly the buyer is not just the rural yokel, anymore.

In 2018, sales of “large pickups rose by 2.1%, according to Carsalesbase.com. A “large pickups” has a carrying capacity of one half-ton or more. The basic size categories of large pickup are half-ton, three-quarter-ton, and one-ton.

Examples of the large pickup include the Chevrolet Silverado and the RAM 1500. The biggest seller remains the Ford F-series.

pickup-2699155_1920A new player in the market is the Nissan Titan. Although launched about fifteen years ago sales have yet to reach the heights of the Chevrolet, much less Ford. It may be that people associate the name Nissan with vans more than pickups. The Titan is not without its good points, apparently, comfortable seats and a new “infotainment unit” as they call the audio/video system.

My sources are confused as to whether the Frontier is a large pickup (Carmax.com) or a small pickup (Forbes.com); let’s call it mid-sized.  The sales seem to be stalling and the automatic transmission of the Frontier and the choice of three different color schemes might not be enough to save it. While it is floundering in the US market, it should be noted that it wasn’t especially targeted to garner US sales.

Nissan may have felt it the psychology of a US truck-buyer was probably not going to buy a non-US truck, no matter how affordable they make it.

Speaking of Mid-sized and Small Pickups

The fact that smaller pickups exist makes it even more confusing as to why Americans are still snapping up large trucks. While the fuel economy of pickups has radically improved there are still more practical options for urban drivers.

Why are so many city dwellers giving themselves heartburn trying to find a parking spot? Why are they making King Cab pickups so a family can use them, when a minivan is a clearly better fit?

pickup-truck-3566293_1920The answer may be that a pickups true competition is the sports car. This is counter intuitive, but a pickup is primarily a second vehicle (that’s brain twister I know). Someone in the nuclear family must drive a primary vehicle, which will either be a family transporter or a small fuel efficient car. That leaves the second person to choose between a small ports car or a truck. As nice as it is to save gas on a sporty little vehicle most people would rather have a nice truck then the third favourite sports car (which is the one they can afford).

Since the truck comes in handy for fetching furniture or moving your home, etc. it becomes the more practical choice.

PS: What about an SUV though? Well, the SUV is really todays version of the 90s minivan, which is in turn the remake of a70’s & 80’s station wagon, which only exists because car-makers shrank the sedan.

LOL, now that we’ve offended just about everyone, let’s end this post. Ya’ll have a good night, ya’hear?

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The Future of Cars – Steel Or Silicon? (Part 1)

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Donald Trump seems to think the future of car production in this country is all about controlling the price of steel and aluminium, but it might come down to silicon instead. This first article will cover what’s happening in the US. Part 2 will go into the changes in Asia and elsewhere.

How long has computer technology been linked to cars? Amazingly, an automated navigation device was first placed in a car in the 1930s, but it mainly consisted of a map on a roll. As you journeyed along the road, you could adjust the dial and travel along the map. Presumably if you traveled the other way along the road, you could adjust the dial the other way. (The real problem was if you went on a road that wasn’t important enough to have one of these maps.)

The first SatNav as we would understand it happened in 1985 with the Etak Navigator. Like most tech at the time the drive was stored on a cassette tape. It still didn’t give you directions; it showed you what the road should be like according to the records. The city of LA could only be stored in four cassettes. The first SatNav with a voice to guide you was created by Mazda in 1990.

Surprisingly, a radios wasn’t even stock in most cars during the 1960 but it didn’t take long to go from radio to 8-track, to cassette. The first Compact Disc device installed in a car was the CD-X in 1984. We can’t find a record of which manufacturer first to install a mobile download system, but it was sometime around the beginnings of 2010.

look-out-of-the-window-2121134_1920We are so used to opening our windows electronically that we rarely think of it as technology at all. The power window seems to go back all the way to 1947 to the Cadillac Fleetwood. However the system was not (still is not) fool-proof. Power windows have produced injuries and even fatalities when obstacles got caught up in the window.

The early concern was that a power window wouldn’t go down if a car became submerged, thereby preventing occupants from being able to equalize pressure and open the door. But think about trying to crank down a manual window while your car sinks slowly into the murky darkness and water pours in on you…truth be told you are best off to keep a device nearby that can smash your window out.

The US government is trying to make these windows safer with items like a lockout switch but safety campaigners warn that injuries can still occur. See the Wikipedia article on Power Windows. As regards automatic sunroofs, well there are so many different types that they deserve an article on their own.

Of course self-driving (AVs) might seem an obvious thing to talk about next, but at this time they’re only for display purposes. The Aptiv for instance although operating in Las Vegas has a real human behind the wheel and the same thing with the Chevy Bolt.

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Power assisted steering comes from 1951 from a Chrysler model, this however used hydraulics. The first electrical power steering was created for the Porsche 911 in 1963. The great advantage for electrics over hydraulics in the lack of wires making it much more efficient and less likely to overheat.

So “The Donald’s” efforts to promote jobs in the legacy American Auto Industry with heavy metal will have some impact on frame-and-body but there’s already a lot more going on inside the automotive brain, which could be a better source of jobs.

 

Best of the Web: History Channel’s Car Week

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Today we bring on you a best of the web that’s really more Best of Cable.

History Channel is running some interesting programming for gear heads and car buffs like us all week (7/7/19 – 7/13/19). It’s Car Week.

7 AM Monday Modern Marvels is covering the road to car week which should give us the road map for the week.

Of course many of the regular shows will do special episodes like American Pickers doing an episode call Car-rama at 1 PM.

There are some other specials getting a lot of press, like the Epic Guide to Military Vehicles, hosted by Chuck Norris.

At the Kicker Blog we look forward to DVRing all of it so when a long day of covering everything else in the vehicle universe is done, we can kick back with a cold beverage and binge on MORE CARS!

PS Just because we love vehicles doesn’t mean we never walk anywhere. Its summer folks and our health tip for you is to park your car at the far end of the parking lot. You get a little more walking it which is good to ease the stress of bad drivers and it’s good for your heart because you get less door dings. Just say’n.

Patriotic Cars

 

alexandria-3773138_1920Op-Ed by Staff

When it comes to giving cars a paint job, you can do worse than choosing the stars and stripes design, it has been used on giant diesel trucks, on VW buses, even on the iconic pickup. Some designs use a static style flag; others choose a dynamic design which looks as if the flag is waving in the breeze.

It is not necessary to stick a stars and stripes design all over a car, sometimes only the hood is painted, sometimes only the roof. It all depends on individual tastes. It’s certainly possible to go too far.

If you don’t want to actually paint the flag on your car you could use a vinyl wrap. Wraps work like a sticker and cover a car in a way that’s durable and cost-effective. NASCAR uses wraps to decorate their cars since they often change sponsors and often take damage.

Should you not wish to paint or wrap your car you can invest in a window screen with the American flag on it, or a stars and stripes style license plate holder. It is a very lucrative market and many car accessories sellers can assist you.

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(https://www.motor1.com/news/98578/corvette-ferrari-le-mans-feature/)

The famous red racing Corvette shows how you can have a design which hints on the stars and stripes without going overboard. Instead of having a flag there are banners which resemble a stripe on the hood as well as one which forms a cross shape on the roof. These banners have stars on them. Most of the rest of the car is red, as stated above.

As well as stars and stripes some cars have bald eagles or even a Civil War battle. It comes down to people’s imagination. A symbol of the USA which often appears on car designs, Captain America is believed by many people to date from the 2011 movie. But in the comic world, he goes all the way back to 1941. The actual symbol doesn’t seem to matter as much as the patriotism evoked.

There is a bit of money to be had from painting your vehicle and displaying the results in events on days such as Independence Day and Veteran’s Day. It might even be a viable business, though you undoubtedly have a great deal of competition out there.

What about the backlash though? Yes, there is a backlash. Some online journalists complain about the number of patriotic vehicles out there. After all, having the stars-and-stripes on your truck proves nothing. Is it better to say, join the military, or run for office? Where some of us appreciate these cars for their aesthetic sense, critics see them as “rather gaudy.” Each to their own.

To many people, the most innately patriotic vehicle is the Jeep, though opinion is divided. Next in line is probably Cadillac.

action-asphalt-blur-315938.jpgYou don’t have to be a dealership owner to know that every car business based in this country wants to be associated with patriotism. The automotive industry is deeply connected to our country. Prior to the space race, cars were the driving technology of the future and the daily bread of the youngest and most innovative new country in the world. Even the aviation industry never toppled cars in the hearts of most Americans.

Why it’s as American as Apple Pie and Baseball!

 

What’s News: R.I.P Mr. Iacoca

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Lee Iacocca, who created the iconic Ford Mustang and later in his career rescued Chrysler from bankruptcy, has died, his foundation and Ford Motor Company confirmed on Tuesday. He was 94. Iacocca’s daughter told The Washington Post the cause of death was complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Original story

In his 32-year career at Ford and then Chrysler, Iacocca helped launch some of Detroit’s best-selling and most significant vehicles, including the minivan, the Chrysler K-cars and the Ford Escort. He also spoke out against what he considered unfair trade practices by Japanese automakers.

Iacocca authored or co-authored several books, including Iacocca: An Autobiography (with William Novak), and Where Have All the Leaders Gone? Portfolio Magazine named Iacocca the 18th-greatest American CEO of all time.

Best of the Web: Great Race (Part 4)

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“Wow, what a crazy adventure. Nine days and approximately 2,300 miles later, we’re in Tacoma, Washington for one of the most awesome Great Race finishes in quite some time. The LeMay – America’s Car Museum offered the perfect venue for our event, and the local car community came out in full force to support the event. The racers had a very challenging final stage of the Great Race, with a multitude of speed changes and maneuvers, leading to the culmination of the 2019 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty…. the crowd would welcome each car across the finish line and then reconvene for the announcement of the winners.

190630_GR_0251We went class by class, and the crowd went wild when announcer Jason White would reveal the class winners. X Cup kicked off the show, as Scott Culp and the Murfreesboro, Tennessee team took top honors in their 1953 Pontiac Chieftain. Then it was the Sportsman team of Neil Myercough and Shanna Chatraw taking fifth place overall and winning their division. The Expert class was highly contested, as always, and it was Olivia and Genna Gentry getting the job done in their new 1932 Ford five-window coupe rally car.

190630_GR_0819Finally, we announced the winner of the Grand Champion, which was the team of Howard and Doug Sharp from Fairport, New York. Their 1916 Hudson was bullet proof all week long, and the Sharps were diligent with their strategy of repeatability…do the same thing every day and never look back. Take a look at some of our photos from the finish line festivities, as well as photos from this morning’s route, our adventure at the drag strip and our Awards Banquet.”

Original Story

Final Scores

If you’d like to enter next years race CLICK HERE!

Great Classic Car Race (Part 3)

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For those who missed a post from us yesterday, we didn’t post because we were out covering the Great Race! Instead we’re posting today!

 

Welcome to our coverage of the Great Race…

We had a fantastic day at the Vancouver, Washington stop on the Great Race. If you’re in Astoria, Oregon right now stop looking at the computer and get yourself down to the Maritime Museum and check it out live for yourself.

By lunch today the cars should be stopping to eat on Commerce Avenue, Longview, WA. Then tonight’s layover will be in Spanaway, WA. at the LeMay Family Collection about 5:15 PM.

The Final Finish Line is LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, WA. @ 1:30 PM Sunday.

190628_GR_0082For more details on the rest of the race stops click this link.

If you want more details on all the cars in the race, click this link.

Here’s some photos from the event here in Vancouver, Washington where we watch the lead cars come in so far. But first lets give a big thanks to Ron Wade of the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (WAAAM) for being a great host. We not only saw some great cars, but we had great conversations with owners, listened to live music, and ate great food from local food trucks. The Coffee Via food truck is one of the great food trucks available here on a regular basis, and we’re excited to come back do a deeper dive on the museum and the food trucks.

190628_GR_0204The Friday began in Warm Springs, OR near Bend when the route took the racers to Hood River, OR for lunch. After a bite, racers were treated to the scenic highway 30 through “The Columbia River Gorge” and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

As racers reached the finish line at WAAAM in Vancouver, each car, driver, and navigator was announced and trivia was told. The day was hot and the crowd was excited. Excitement and congeniality blended to bring an atmosphere unique to car culture.

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Please enjoy tons more photos on the Kicker Facebook Page.

Great Classic Car Race (Part 2)

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The Columbian Newspaper here in Vancouver, WA is covering the great race we mentioned on Monday. You know we’ll be there this Friday. It’s going to be fun, I hope some of you come down and join us. (If you don’t live local, just google your local car shows and check one out.)

Activities start at 10 am technically, when the Museum opens, but don’t expect to see any cars at the finish line until about 5 PM. In the mean time there is a cruise-in at 2 PM and eventually live music by King Brothers.

The finish line for the overnight layover will be  WAAAM West Cars by Ron Wade at 1015 N.E. 78th St., Vancouver, WA. 

The Great Race began 36 years ago and is a Time/Speed/Distance Rally. It began in Riverside, CA. this year and will end in Tacoma, WA. Each stop is free.

For an Update on Day Four Progress here’s a link.

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Joke Car Terms

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by A. R. Bunch

The other day, in the local big box hardware store, I overheard a young man in a yellow construction vest ask an employee where he could find a “mile of shoreline.” The grey-haired employee smiled broadly and said, “go down to isle 10 and ask Ted, he’ll fix you up.”

“Great,” exclaimed the young man. “’cause then I also need to find a two-by-four bender.”

The employee rested his chin in his hand, covering his grin, and his eyes gleamed with the effort of holding back laughter.

“Go ahead and ask Ted for that as well. He’ll know right what to do.”

As soon as the young man left, both the employee and I laughed. Of course, I felt sorry for the young guy, but it’s a right of passage. We’ve all paid our dues, as “old hat” employees prank you into saying or doing something absurd because we don’t know the ropes yet.

For me, it was taking apart an old (and much hated) cash register so I could retrieve a part I’d never heard of, that needed to be recycled separately. The rest of the machine could be thrown away, or so I was told. When my manager eventually hunted me up to see why I’d left my post for so long I was up to my elbow in a machine the size of an office copier that could have just been drug out back for maintenance to haul away.

To save you similar embarrassment, here are a few common car industry pranks.

Items to never ask for at your local auto part store:

  • Headlight fluid
  • Windshield lubricant
  • Bumper tape or anti-scratch tape
  • Headrest accelerant
  • Spark plug magnifier
  • Trailer hitch swivel
  • Microwave compression unit
  • Screen filter for the cabin floor drain
  • Waterproof roof-valve assembly package

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And for the record, your seat cushion doesn’t expire so don’t look for the date.

  • There is no hand crank back up for a modern electric starter.
  • There is no exhaust malfunction on your electric car.
  • There is no button on your dashboard to automatically jack up your car.

If your mechanic says you have a loose nut behind the wheel, he or she is saying that the grinding noise you hear can’t be heard by any trained professional.

However, there are some things you’ll be tempted to think are BS which actually are true.

  • Internal combustion engines do technically have a tiny amount of fire under the hood.
  • Cars can and do burn a percentage of alcohol (up to and including 100% on rare occasion).
  • There are actually two colors of deasil which results from a dye added to deasil sold for farm equipment (indicating that no road tax was charged on that fuel).
  • Bio-deasil is used oil that’s been altered primarily by filtering it.
  • The rubber on your tires does have an expiration date on it and does go bad sitting on the shelf even if it’s never put on a car.
  • Many car scratches can be buffed out with wax
  • Undercoating can come in handy but only in places that rely on salt to prevent road ice
  • Hitler did not invent the VW bug, but most Germane and Japanese did make warplanes or tanks, as did most allied car companies. At one point GM was the largest defense contractor in the world.
  • Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, he adopted a process of manufacture that reduced the cost and therefore the price.
  • There is a separate air filter for your cabin and your engine.
  • There is such a thing as a branded title (meaning the car has been totaled once.)
  • New cars do lose most of there value when driven off the dealer lot.

Well, hopefully, you’re now equipped with the basics so you won’t look ridiculous around people who do know cars. If you know one we missed please let us know in the comments. We promise we’ll keep you anonymous.

“Classic Car” New Great Race (part 1)

Welcome to the first installment of our coverage of the Great Race.

According to the race organizers official blog:

Teams and cars from Japan, England, Australia, Canada and every corner of the United States will converge in Riverside in mid-June with vintage automobiles dating back as far as 1916.”

This will be the first year that the race will start and finish on the west coast. It began today in Riverside, CA and ends Saturday June 30 in Tacoma, WA.

Here’s a link to the full route.

Link to route
The 9-day, 2,300-mile adventure will bring 120 of the world’s finest antique automobiles to 18 cities in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. More than $150,000 will be awarded to top finishers in multiple divisions.

The event was started in 1983 by Tom McRae and it takes its name from the 1965 movie, The Great Race, which starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood and Peter Falk. The movie is a comedy based on the real life 1908 automobile race from New York to Paris. In 2004, Tony Curtis was the guest of the Great Race and rode in his car from the movie, the Leslie Special.

Cars built in 1974 and earlier are eligible, with most entries having been manufactured before World War II. In the 2017 Great Race a 1932 Ford won the event from Florida to northern Michigan. The 2019 winners will again receive $50,000 of the $150,000 total purse.

Over the decades, the Great Race has stopped in hundreds of cities big and small, from tiny Austin, Nevada to New York City.

Every stop along the race is free to the public and you can be sure when it rolls through Vancouver, WA. This Friday the kicker blog will be there to cover the event.

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