The 5 Things New Cars Have That We Can’t Live Without

Heated seats, climate control, smart door handles, powerful stereos, and power liftgates are some of the few features that we love about new cars. Manufacturers are always looking for unique ways to enhance our driving experience, a feat typically achieved by introducing new or. Improved features. 

For many car enthusiasts, these features are a ‘must-have’ as they make life on the road easier. Here are the top five new features modern cars have, and you can’t do without them.

Heated Seats and Side Mirrors.

Heated seats are particularly helpful during winter. Initially, you had to wear gloves and cover yourself in layers of clothes during the winter, but now you can have your car seats warm you up. With just a button press, the steering wheel and the seats are all heated, and you are warm enough to drive. A heated side mirror feature allows you to drive seamlessly without opening the car window to remove snow.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive cruise control is a great feature for road trips. The feature allows the car to self-drive reducing the need for you to become overly worked out by concentrating for long hours. You can easily multitask as you can now focus on eating that burrito, knowing well that adaptive cruise control is your third eye while on the road.

The feature also is helpful in busy city streets. Though it may be tiresome to always be on the lookout for the car in front of you, with adaptive cruise features, you can have the peace of mind to let the car take care of those situations by calculating the vehicle’s distance in front of you as you drive.

Smart Door Handles

Smart door handles are one of those innovations that are helpful, especially when you may need help operating the doors. You don’t need to use a lot of effort to open the door because you can either use voice recognition or an app to open and close your door.

Some cars have apps that you can install on your phone and open the door right from your phone. Isn’t that an amazing feature? The only downside is that when you are hacked, it could be a scary ordeal.

Software Upgrades

Car brands like Tesla have numerous software upgrades that can overly increase the car’s efficiency and performance in general. This feature increases the safety precautions of the car and reliability in the long run. Tesla uses this kind of update on its AI system, and the feedback from the clients has been nothing but positive reviews.

Electric hydraulic

Electric hydraulics are superb features that increase the levels of comfort inside the car. You could be travelling through rough terrain, but you might not even notice since the shock absorption quality is remarkable. You can also travel for long hours without fatigue.

Memorial Day at the Kicker

Many things in America have become more about their celebration than their meaning. With Christmas, for example, we’ve heard folks complain about the crass commercialism of it for decades. Likewise many holidays have become simply a four-day weekend. Since Memorial Day is clearly about not forgetting something important, let’s take a shot at remembering what it means.

Originally celebrated May 30 regardless of the day of the week it fell on, Memorial Day is now pegged to the last Monday in May. It’s a day set aside by act of congress to honor Military service men and women who died in active duty.

Controversy

A few decades ago, historians and cultural anthropologist were almost annoyingly accepting of different cultures and different eras. They got very clinical when discussing cannibals or more violent times in the distant past of Easter and Western culture. Now days, we rush to judge those who do things in a manner other than our own. We deem it unenlightened.

This intolerance of other cultures and our own past has made many holidays “problematic.” Is there potential for controversy with Memorial Day? Sure is. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial day was born after Civil War (war between the states if you’re my grandma).

As early as 1860, people had begun to visit the graves of fallen soldiers in the spring to decorate them with flowers and say a pray over them. When the war ended in spring of 1865, it had claimed more American lives than any other conflict in US history, so it seems natural that the tradition took hold on both sides of the conflict. It was the Civil War that caused the first federal cemetery to be built.

Decoration Day

The practice of mourning solders in the spring seems to have sprung up spontaneously around the country in towns and cities of every size. Earliest recorded celebrations were in the south starting as soon as a month after the wars end. One in Charleston, South Carolina, was organized by a group of former slaves. In 1868 General John A. Logan called for a Decoration Day. There are records showing that Northern Cities embraced the practice by 1890.

Warrenton, Virginia, Savannah, Georgia, Jackson Mississippi, Columbus Georgia and Columbus Mississippi all began decorating graves in Spring around the same time in the America South. Of course Gettysburg lays some claim to the practice since Abraham Lincoln gave one of the most moving speeches of all time when he commemorated the graves there.

It was likely World War 1 and 2 that generalized the practice to include all armed services personal who died during war time and not just specific to the civil war.

In 1966, the fedral government declared Waterloo, New York the birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo had celebrated May 5th consistently since 1866, including the modern practice of closing business for the entire day.

Recent History of Memorial Day

It didn’t become a national Holiday until 1971. Many Americans observe the holiday by visiting cemeteries or memorials, gather as families, or participating in parades.

Side Note: It’s the unofficial beginning of summer.

The official remembrance part of memorial day is at 3 PM in each time zone, often marked with a moment of silence.

Memorial Day is for remembering those fallen in battle (or at least during active war.) There is also Veterans Day on November 11, which honors those who served–living or dead. Then there is the lesser known Armed Services Day which unofficially honors those currently serving in the military.

Most years there are Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery dating back to 1868. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is more often a location of ceremony on November 11th Veterans day. There are also ceremonies most years at the Vietnam War Memorial.

Memorial Day and Cars

This site exists to provide useful information to car enthusiasts and commuters, but we’ve been huge supporters of veterans since the beginning.

If we ignore the obvious Memorial Day connection to cars–the massive sales that go on that weekend–we are left with parades. You can ride a horse or march in a procession down a parade route but one of the most stylish, and easy on the feet, ways to participate in a parade is to ride in a convertible car with it’s top down.

Many parades involve floats which are motorized vehicles built onto a frame and motor. Some floats are decorated tractors, trucks or even golf carts. Most are purpose built. Most parade floats are self propelled although some are towed, usually by tractor or horse. Of course the goal of a float is to give the illusion that it’s floating on the surface street like a ship on the sea (hence the name). Therefore the vehicle is entirely covered by some kind of decoration.

Regardless of the base vehicle inside the float it must be heavily modified. For one thing, floats don’t need to go fast and do need to go very slow without stalling for long periods of time. So extra gears boxes are often required to make first gear smooth at 2.5 miles per hour. Extra radiators are added so the engine doesn’t overheat running low and slow for several hours. Finally the tires are filled with foam so they wont’ get a flat during the parade.

Many floats are large enough to require a second driver in a second cockpit to steer around blind corners. Also most floats are two level so a deck must be built by welding together steel tubing.

If there are animatronics, like arms or elevators, then hydraulics are employed to make the motion smoother. That means cylinders and pumps all driven off a second engine. You’ll also need a complex array of valves and a computer to control them. You’ll need gauges, manual controls, and of course monitors to see what the animatronics are doing.

Floats are considered moving sculptures and receive permits to use roadways that are event by event specific. Floats must gather in a location near the beginning and end of the route which takes a lot of logistics. Most parade organizers hire professionals to inspect floats prior to their use to avoid injuring an operator, passenger or observer along the route. Of course almost as bad as injury is a breakdown that causes a delay mid route.

As a rule, parade floats aren’t used more than once, although parts are salvaged and reused in future designs. Often floats are viewed before and after the parade in special display locations, before being towed back to the place they were built so they may be dismantled.

There is a National Memorial Day Parade that takes place along Constitution Ave.

The Counter-Intuitive Appreciation of Used Cars

New cars are expected to lose a significant amount of value the second they are driven off the lot. Used cars are not supposed to be investments. Even vintage or classic cars aren’t really appreciating in value so much as regaining value. Meaning they went through a time of massive value loss, then because there are fewer of them left and after lots of money and work spent in restoring them to immaculate condition, well, they still aren’t a good investment. But they technically have ‘gained value.’

But there is a curious bubble building right now that should at least grab your attention, if not make you consider some major decisions. The value of many used cars–not classic, nor vintage, nor extremely rare–regular used cars that were a dime a dozen just two years ago when they were new, has increased at nearly the same rate as the popular bitcoin NFTs and exceeding many increases in the stock market.

To be clear, this is not expected to continue for much longer. With that, there are decisions that warrant some consideration as the vehicle sitting in your driveway or garage right now might offer one of the best returns on investment you will have.

The Why…

There are two main reasons this jump or surge might be happening. Both are certainly “negatives” in the realm of commerce, but neither is showing many indications of recovery anytime soon.

Inventory

The past few years have placed an immense strain on everyone and everything. While we might be (hopefully) nearing the end, some effects have yet to reach their peak, and recovery may still take a few long years away. Perhaps one of the largest of those is the supply chain issues that you almost assuredly have already experienced.

Couple the shortage of inventory of imported automobiles over the last few years, as well as the chip shortage that has dramatically slowed the production of new vehicles, there simply is less supply for the same demand.

The best way to think about it is that a car doesn’t run unless it has all its parts. So a shortage in a couple types of parts can sideline a lot of cars.

While both issues are showing signs of a turnaround, it may take a bit of time yet for a full recovery from these.

Inflation

Inflation is a fickle economic indicator. In general, things cost more during times of inflation, but the cost of particular goods is not necessarily an indicator of inflation. In looking specifically at car values, the average price of both new and used cars has gone up drastically. This would seem like decent evidence for inflation.

However, the average value of used cars around two years old has jumped by 50%, with new car values seeing half that. Time will tell whether this trend continues or if the cost of vehicles begins to drop.

The Market

Not unlike many housing markets, the used car market is a seller’s paradise. If you have been considering selling your car, either to upgrade to a newer model or to downsize your family’s fleet, now might be your best time. As always, take some time to research to see how much your used car is worth. It won’t take long to see how the value has grown over the past two years.

Buying a Car

If you are looking to upgrade to a newer model, now might not be the best time, especially if you are committed to a used vehicle. Depending on your circumstances or why you are needing a different vehicle (growing family, perhaps), you might not have a choice. In this case, there are a few things to consider. First, if you can wait and “ride out” this wave, it might prove less of a financial blow if prices come down. Second, if you can’t wait, consider buying a new car. Yes, the average cost of new cars has also increased, but nothing compared to used vehicles.

What would cause the Bubble to Stay Longer?

Well, Governors like Jay Insley of Washington state keep announcing that new vehicles will be all electric (EVs) or Hybrids. In Washington’s case, the goal is to make this shift by 2035. They infrastructure can’t handle that now, and is unlikely to in 2035.

The effect of banning sales of new, non-EV cars in a state will drive the price up on used ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars.

How Big Will the Bubble Get?

Or, how long will it take for prices to go down? No one knows. This is unlike any other time where the market is “simply” based on the ebbs and flows of the economy itself. With the external influences at play, we may see recovery within a few months, or it may take a few years. In both cases, there can be a very steep slope in both directions. We may not have seen the peak of the value of used cars. On the other hand, if the bubble bursts, we may see such a drastic drop in prices that they will fall beyond where they started.

10 Ways to Save on Auto Insurance 

The laundry list of expenses when it comes to vehicle ownership can seem never-ending. One expense that is a legal requirement to drive, but is something you hope to never need is car insurance.

You might have insurance through the same company you used since you started driving. And, you might be paying ever-increasing premiums. That doesn’t have to be the case. There are many ways to save money and keep great coverage.

One–Don’t Let Your Coverage Lapse

Letting your coverage lapse can have a significant impact on your premium. Not unlike how employers look at gaps in your employment history, insurance companies are leery of any gaps in coverage, especially the longer they are. On average, premiums increased by 8% with gaps shorter than 30 days. Longer than that, the average shoots up to a 35% increase.

Two–Bundling

Most major auto insurance companies also have branches or subsidiaries that handle homeowners, renters and/or other types of insurance. With nearly all of these, savings of between 5% and 25% can be found.

Three–Coverage

Take a close look at your specific policy coverages and see if it is at a level that makes sense to you. For example, if you are living in a dry area where lots of rocks or sand is thrown up by trucks, you might want to have more comprehensive coverage as you might be replacing windshields frequently. If you live in a wetter climate where that doesn’t happen as much, it might be worth it to save by not having so much coverage.

Four–Mileage

Many of the top insurance companies provide a discount of up to 10% for simply driving less. To get this discount might take a bit more work on your end, as some require either periodic reporting of mileages or signing up to have a beacon/sensor sent to you. Once you enroll in these programs, they are extremely easy and can save quite a bit of money.

Five–Accidents

Accidents happen. But in being extra diligent in trying to avoid them, your insurance rates will not increase because one and many companies will reward you for remaining accident-free for certain periods. Since nearly every policy requires  prompt reporting of accidents, the severity of the accident and who is at fault can have serious effects on your premium. 

Six–Defensive Driving

Another way to save that requires a bit more of an active role is to complete a Defensive Driving course. Nearly every insurance company offers a discount with proof of completion. Best of all, you can complete this online (be sure to check with your carrier to make sure they accept the program you find). Not only will this save you money, but the knowledge gained from the course might also keep you accident-free.

Seven–Your Car

This is something to consider when you are looking for a new car, but can also affect the one(s) you currently own. Request a few quotes based on the ages, makes, and models. Generally, the older the car, the lower the premium. If you have an existing policy, contact your agent to see if the premium can be “refreshed” with the current age of your vehicle.

Eight – Credit

Just like your ability to get a lower interest rate on lines of credit, the higher your credit score is, the more likely you are to find a lower premium. If you are working to restore or build your credit up, be sure to stay in contact with your agent as your score increases. (Beware the inquiry use may affect your score. Ask if it is a hard or soft (preferred) credit pull.)

Nine – Pay-In-Full

When shopping around, or researching within an existing policy, many companies offer discounts when a policy is paid in full for the coverage periods. Typically, this is six months or a year.

Ten – Your Age

If you are in your college years or around retirement, there might be a discount that you qualify for. Generally, younger drivers can qualify for discounts based on their grades. Older drivers (usually 55+) can qualify for up to 10% in savings.

The Five Best Car Shows 

Barrett-Jackson Auction

For many people, the release of a new model from a favorite carmaker is exciting. For others, seeing perfectly restored vintage cars brings them back to memories of their early years. In both cases, any travel or extra work needed is well worth it.

The incredible variety of car shows around the United States, as well as the world that provides nearly any kind of experience you might be looking for. These can range from seeing cars that are over forty years old but look as new as the day they rolled out of the factory, to cars that look like they are from forty years in the future.

If you are looking for just such an experience, here are five car shows that may be just what you are looking for. Being able to see the evolution of the automobile first-hand is well worth the time. 

Classic Cars–Woodward Dream Cruise

It is fitting that one of the largest car shows in the world is just miles from the American City known for auto productions. The Woodward Dream Cruise is hosted each August just outside of Detroit, in Pontiac, Michigan. Expect to see over 40,000 classic cars on display or driving down the famed Woodward Drive.

Luxury Cars–Monterey Car Week

What is often described as “the most important car show in America”, this week-long luxury event takes place among the incredible scenery of Monterey Bay in California. Not only are you able to see mint-condition vintage models from famed makers such as Ferrari and Bugatti, but this event also serves as a “test” for many concepts, years away from production. The weekends with the “Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance” that has a dress-code expectation to match the elegant name.

New Releases/Concepts – Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)

Held in late October in Las Vegas, Nevada since 1967, it was not until recent decades that SEMA had transformed into what it is today. Automobile manufacturers realize, and attendees expect this to be the premier event for incredibly advanced concept cars, “one-offs” and custom builds. Although many of these will never make it to full production, it is the ability to see what each carmaker is capable of that draws the interest. The advancements in auto technology shown here may just be used as part of a full production model shortly. 

International–Paris Motor Show

When the Paris Motor Show is held this October, it will mark the 124th Anniversary of one of the first international auto shows. There is no ignoring the travel and cost associated with attending this event. However, if you are looking to see what is on the near horizon from automakers, this is the event to attend, and the event provides great instructions and help for international attendees. With certain trade regulations affecting what is exported/imported to various countries, many automakers have models specific to certain regions, the Paris Motor Show brings them all together. There is a definitive shift as automakers have showcased new green technologies and car-driver connectivity never seen before.

Auctions – Barrett-Jackson

Taking classic car restorations to another level, entrants into a Barrett-Jackson auction take time to perfect every detail on their car, in hopes of getting a higher bid. These auctions are held periodically throughout the year in various cities. While this is not a traditional car show, there will certainly be one-of-a-kind cars rolling across the auction block. Plus, there is the bonus of watching the exciting action that an auto auction brings.

America On Wheels

Andy Bunch

Who doesn’t love a museum? Well, it probably depends on what the museum is dedicated to. If what leaps to mind is modern art, you either got really excited or really not. Well there are a ton of car museums out there. If there’s one in your town, no matter how small, let us know in the comment section or send us a message. Until then, here is one of the big ones…

America on Wheels 

Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, America on Wheels pays homage to everything transportation. Offering guided tours every Wednesday and Friday of their state of the art restoration center, as well as being open daily to view their regular galleries and rotating displays. The museum is currently displaying the Gary Hiller Collection. They also offer student camps and field trips to inspire the next generation of car enthusiasts. 

With all three galleries, the restoration center, artist spaces, and the Hubcap Cafe the campus is 43,000 square feet. 

You can view a huge variety of  bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles and trucks from carriages to cars of the future. 

Where it Came From

The museum is that gem of the “Lehigh Landing redevelopment project which started in 1989. The goal was to turn the Arbogast & Bastian meat packing plant and its surrounding areas into a tourist attraction with a brewery, walking trails, a footbridge across the river, and a promenade for festivals.

Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS

The project wasn’t complete until 2008 and came in at a little over $17 million. (Remember when you could build something for just $17 million?) 

What NOT to Miss

The 1889 Nadig Gas-Powered Carriage was found rusting out in an old garage. It turns out to have been one of the first gas-powered vehicles driven in the US. Owned and operated by Henry Nadig, a German-born mechanic native to Allentown, who was ordered by police to drive at night to avoid scaring horses. 

The Hubcap Cafe is a 1950s style diner brought back to life by a $200,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The dinner is a complete experience with malted shakes, soda jerks, and waitresses on roller skates. You need to try it. 

Spring Road Trip Destinations

In 2022 we are starting to get back to our everyday lives while still being mindful of others. Spring road trips are the best way to take a vacation while viewing new places around the United States. So, what are some of the best Spring road trip destinations you can take this year? We are glad you asked! Take a look at this list of unique places you can go this Spring.

Columbia River Highway

Do you love scenic views of nature? Or maybe you’re the type of person who loves to feel the car sway with the road. Whatever it is you love about road trips, you will be shocked by this 74-mile highway surrounded by greenery in Oregon. It begins in Portland and goes down to the Columbia River Gorge.

What You Can Expect To See

  • Waterfalls
  • Rivers
  • Bridges
  • Many Campsites

This is not an incredibly long road trip, but the best thing about it is that there are many campsites to stop at along the way. It will only take a few hours, but you can stretch it into a week if you are an avid camper and hiker.

State Highway 82 Colorado

If you’ve heard of Colorado, you know that it is meant for people who love the outdoors, which also includes road-tripping. During the spring and summer, you will want to hit this highway and stop for a look at Independence Pass. It’s the best stretch of road for people who love to drive and will take you through 32 miles of mountainous terrain.

What You Can Expect To See

  • Nature and Scenic Views
  • Mountains
  • Blue Skies
  • Rest Stops With Views

This is truly a magical road trip that you should plan on once in your life. It is fun to drive, filled with twists, turns, and sloped corners. This will make you want to drive more in the future.

The Big Five In Utah

Why is this called the big five? There are five national parks in Utah that you can easily stop at on this road trip. If you love geography and checking out the multiple parks on one trip, this is what you should be planning.

What You Can Expect To See

  • Bryce Canyon
  • Canyonlands
  • Arches
  • Zion National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park

This will be a fantastic trip if you love to drive and have an enthusiasm for national parks. Some of these parks are famous for their natural landmarks, and you can easily view them and photograph each one. Every year millions of people go to the parks just for the views, and it is worth it.

Pacific Coast Trip

You can spend 655 miles driving along the coast to view the Pacific Ocean. Does that not sound wonderful? You can roll down your windows and enjoy the smells of the ocean and the rich trees lining the roads. It’s a stunning sight when the sun comes out and the perfect road trip for this spring.

What You Can Expect To See

  • Bright Green Trees
  • Ocean Waves
  • Mountains and Boulders
  • Historical Landmarks

The west coast has plenty of places for you to stop on your road trip. You can take a day to hike around or even camp in beautiful areas. This can be as long as you want it, and the best thing is even though you’re driving, you will be surrounded by beauty. It’s time to plan your spring road trip destination to the west coast.

Tips To Plan Your Road Trip

It can be so fun to start planning a road trip, but you also need to take a look at the car you’re driving. Plan out how many miles you want to go and make sure your car can handle all of those extra miles. This can be a fun getaway if your car is ready to take on the road. Fill up on gas, plan your gas stops, and have food breaks before hitting the road.

If you are not 100% sure your car is ready for a road trip, consider getting a pre-trip inspection from a company that specializes in inspection and is willing to come to you. If only we knew of one we could recommend…

What Do Car Smells Mean?

Although something chemical smelt when taking a trip doesn’t always mean you are in imminent danger, it’s always best to know what the most common odors mean and what you should do next…

Serious Smells…

If you detect a rotten egg smell it’s sulfur gas or hydrogen sulfide leaking from the catalytic converters or maybe the fuel filters. If the fluid in the filter isn’t changed it can create a rotten egg smell throughout the system.

A mold or mildew smell could be a problem with the air conditioner, possibly items like leaves or sweet wrappers blocking it. This may in turn lead to water flowing onto your carpets or mats. The air conditioner should be run every month or so for about two minutes, but most people forget—especially in the winter.

A strange syrupy or candy smell is the odor of the coolant, also known as ethylene gycol, the same substance used in antifreeze. It may mean that your car is in danger of overheating. It shouldn’t be driven but taken immediately to a repair shop.

The smell of smoke or burning oil is probably an oil leak. If the oil leak hits the exhaust a fire will result, so it’s vital that this is dealt with immediately.

Should you encounter something similar to burnt paper especially when moving the gears could be the result of pressing down the clutch pedal too much. Not many people know that the clutch is sensitive to overuse and as a result could fail.

Burning plastic may be a short circuit, for example a wire being worn down, or alternately, chewed by a small animal. Another explanation would be an item such as a plastic bag entering the exhaust. It’s best to take it to be repaired as both of these are too dangerous to be dealt with by most regular car owners.

A smell of gas a long time after you fill the tank should be cause for concern. Sometimes gasoline does spill onto shoes, coats etc. so it’s always best to check. It could be something like a faulty gas cap or fuel injector. As always, it’s best to take it to the garage.

If you can smell what seems like the exhaust when you are sitting in the car the best thing to do is to roll down your window and take it to the garage immediately.

Lifestyle Smells…

Here are some handy hints to remove smells which you may encounter in everyday use, apart from the item most commonly used–air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror!

A smell from the car’s carpet may be removed by a car vacuum, especially if it has steam clean or a wash function.

Baking powder shouldn’t be placed on the upholstery for instance but placed in a bowl and left in the car overnight to attack any smells in the vicinity.

Those tumble dryer sheets can do miracles if it’s a hot day. Just leave a couple in the back window to replace smells and leave a fresh scent. Or you could use a freshly washed cushion or towel, as long as you remember to remove it after about a day.

A water and vinegar mixture can remove the smell of vomit – and remove it with a vinegar smell but pick your battles, eh!

So now that you’ve cleared your car of bad “lifestyle” smells, you have no excuse to miss an odor that indicates a mechanical issue.

The Death of Small Cars?

Small cars may be becoming an endangered species as the subcompact market seems to be declining. Fewer people are spending $20,000 and under on a car according to 2021 figures. These statistics may come as a bit of a shock, given the state of the economy.

People seem to prefer SUVs which are more expensive. Does it mean too many people are following the crowd?

It does mean that those who are after a subcompact are more likely to obtain a bargain, at least until automakers right-size their production.

The loudness of the complaint depends on the share of the market:

Other sources are more scathing, saying that subcompact cars are dead. It’s going a bit far too say Ford, GM and so on. At least publicly, car companies that don’t focus on passenger cars are not noticing the decline the way traditional small car manufacturers are.

Ford for example has stopped sedans and hatchbacks and GM has stopped selling the Buick Regal, leading to speculation.

It cannot be a coincidence that the Buick Regal, though technically a midscale car, has been having problems selling. Marketed as a luxury car the Buick Regal had coupe and sedan versions up until 1997 when the market started to resist spending big dollars on anything smaller than an SUV. The official reasons for discontinuing it altogether has been down to contractual reasons, according to the Gmauthority.com website, but whatever it is, it doesn’t look good.

A Decline in Midsized as Well?

It’s a shame that more wagons or coupes aren’t being made this year. To clarify, a wagon is short for station wagon, a car with an extended trunk that in many ways resembles a sedan, and a coupé is a car with a sloping roof and two doors as well as always having a fixed roof.

It’s disconcerting that something like a Cadillac sedan hasn’t been more successful. In China, they have been selling fitfully, but it’s a different story in the Western world. There’s still the CT4 (compact) and the CT5 (mid-size). There is no longer a CT6 or full-sized Cadillac being produced. There have also been more crossover vehicles which would back up the assumption that if commuters are going to buy a smaller vehicle, they at least want a body style that looks like the larger version.

Around the world

Other areas of the Eastern world bear more of a semblance with the Western world. Hatchbacks are now not as popular as they once were and now only make up a third of the market. The micro hatchbacks with names such as “Kwid” and “Alto” are experiencing a particularly heavy dip. Micro hatchbacks are the Indian equivalent of a compact hatchback. 

Sales for the CT6 peaked in 2017 and have been heading down ever since. Some journalists may have popularized it as a “parent car,” but then again didn’t parents also drive jeeps and pick-ups? Almost certainly, but these are unaffected.

The Ford Fusion is also discontinued do to declining sales. Built in a factory in Sonora, Mexico between the years 2006 to 2020. There have also been a number of different variants from gasoline and various types of hybrid. The last Fusion went off the production line in July 2020, just a few months into the pandemic, so it’s difficult to pin the slump entirely on a change of taste in the market. Manufacturing costs also play a role as importing things became more expensive.

It’s sad that smaller cars are disappearing if the only factor is taste. In the end, the market will decide.

Individualized Car Designs.

OP-ED by the UK Desk

Ever notice how every car is special, at least according to how its marketed, they are after all mass-produced. So, it’s no wonder that many people desire to make their cars distinct, individualized in any number of ways.

Making your Car Uniquely You: The Basics…

Starting with the common add-ons. Many people add chrome wheels, spoilers and the like. We’ve covered that in other posts. It’s not hard to find an SUV someone has “ruggedized” with spare tires on the back, roof racks, and extra gas cans.

More Extreme…

Some people cover their cars with strange material, whether it’s fur or AstroTurf or wallpaper or whatever.

Some innovators go for a known aesthetic, like steampunk. They use brass pipes and things to add a vintage style to a modernish car.

Other customizers strap something to the car’s roof, like a rubber duck or a hat.

Some go so far as to transform their car into a high-heeled shoes or a permanently grounded UFO or giving them the shade and texture of a gecko lizard. While these cars are uncommon there’s no difficulty finding them in a large city.

Others have jetpack boosters coming out of the rear or have the trunk region being turned into a Wendy House. It seems as if they make their imagination run riot.

The History of Extremely Custom Cars…

But there have always been strange designs. Hardly anyone nowadays has heard of the Special, also known as a Streamliner, named after Norman Timbs. Apart from its sleek streamlined shape what stands out is its strong plum color and the fact that it has no door, no trunk or even hood. A “streamliner” is a vehicle (more likely a railway engine than a car) which has been engineered in such a way to reduce air resistance.

Norman Timbs was a racecar engineer who worked on cars for the Indy 500. Though you might think of it as a concept car and possibly one with a market, only a test vehicle was ever made. Disastrously, it was all but destroyed in a fire in 2018 but fortunately the frame was saved. From these small pieces they managed to recreate the whole car creating a wonderful museum piece.

The Ferrari Modulo

1970 Ferrari Modula

Although many cars in the 1970s took their influence from jet planes, the Ferrari Modulo goes one step beyond and takes its design through the contemporary idea of spacecraft. It was first seen at the Geneva Motor Show in 1970. Adding to the extra-terrestrial appearance are the wheels which are slightly hidden. It could be a bit of a worry to see on a dark night, especially in middle America.

Pinnifarnia designed it, who are well known for designing coaches as well as more regular vehicles. Based in Turin, this design business works in Maserati and General Motors as well as Korean names of Hyandai and Daewoo. They even make other luxury items such as private jets and yachts.

Pinnifarnia’s work is worth going into a bit more. Its first HQ was in Turin in 1920, creating at first the chassis for Cadillacs and Rolls Royce. The biggest success the company made is arguably the Cisitalia 202 Coupé featured as did in the Museum of Modern Art.

Are these vehicles designed to be driven or should they be just treated as works of art? Whatever, they bring some color and joy into people’s lives. Possibly a bit of madness too.

By the time we’re talking about Professional Custom Designers like Pinnifarnia we’re into another class of customizer—one catering to those rich enough to order a truly custom vehicle. The most famous of this class of customizer are the custom Harley makers like Orange County Choppers, Jessie James and the like. They justify their own post…coming soon…