Taking Someone’s Else’s Car For Spin…legally!

If you love, love, love to drive, but you don’t want to put a lot of road trip miles on your car, there are ways to drive other people’s cars long distances. For several reasons, people will drive a vehicle somewhere, like a vacation, and end up flying home. They’ll need to hire a service to get that car back to them and because truck routes are limited it can be less expensive to hire someone to drive it back to you.

Many car and motorhome companies require drivers to take the vehicles back and forth for these road trippers. This occupation seems to be especially strong in Florida where many drivers want to take their car north in the spring. No wonder that there are vacancies for people who want to deliver these vehicles.

You have to be at least 23 years and have a valid driver’s license to become a courier. Please note that some courier companies have a higher age threshold and some may require you to undergo background checks. It is free of charge, but unsurprisingly you need to pay a deposit of $350 before you can deliver a car.

There’s probably a number of weeks spent waiting around for you to get a job, but the jobs may well provide the adventure Americana to scratch your itch.

Motorhome companies with a similar need for couriers. As do ambulances, busses, small fire/rescue vehicles, limousines, and hearse’. What do they have in common? They are too big to fit on a car carrier.

According to ZipRecruiter.com this job should fetch you between $27K and $54k per year. AutoDriveway is one such company that employs drivers to deliver a car.

Of course, if you just want a local job instead of the long haul you can check out your local auto dealership or port where cars are imported. Rental car companies also employ people to deliver cars to and from repair shops and the like.

Expect any of these employers to require a little customer service skill and to require you to fill out a checklist before you pick up and after you deliver the vehicle.

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The Problem with Flying Cars

It is 2020 right? So we should have flying cars? But it’s not as simple as that. As said before in these posts not all novelty works and a flying car would surely be one hell of a novelty.

It would cost $50 million to buy a flying car, though it is possible to get one from private hands at about $279,000. This sounds ruthlessly expensive, so let’s break it down.

Because a car is not built for flight it is better to start with a plane and work backwards, so getting a plane to drive on the road. Then you have the problem of where on the road you can land the plane, you can’t just land it in the middle of freeway. So really you’re talking about a plane you can fly one day and drive the next day.

There’s also the difficulty with fuel. Can’t you fill up a flying car at a gas pump? Don’t flying objects need something stronger, like kerosene?

As well as the flying car itself you’re going to run into a big insurance bill. As soon as you have a car which might plummet into the ground from a great height (not that I’m being pessimistic at all here…) the costs are going to skyrocket (especially as a crash could come from simply running out of fuel).

Manoeuvrability is also a stumbling block. Something which flies handles differently from an object on the ground (this is pretty self-explanatory stuff but when you’re exploring possibilities you do have to state the obvious). A car might be tested by a strong gust of wind, but unless its very strong the car will be able to continue on its journey. However a flying car is reliant on the air around it, so in a windy day it will be harder to handle and may just crash.

Another tricky day to fly in would be a foggy day; you might just collide with a building or hill. So this would be a good day not to take your googles out of the glove compartment? 

With the information stated above, it may shock you that people are creating drastic in-roads in coming up with a flying car. The Transition by Terrafugia’s selling point is that it is a plane that is stored in the garage. It can transform; James Bond-style from a car into a plane but again you have the difficulty of where it can take off and where it can land.

This vehicle require two types of engine- a hybrid motor for driving on the ground and a 4 cylinder engine for its plane mode. As well as a driver’s license you need a sports pilot certificate. It has an airframe parachute and airbags. How good are airbags in a plane crash? Maybe this should be looked into. They also need their own registration plate.

Uber meanwhile are looking into the concept of flying taxis, which may be available over the skies of Dubai, LA and Dallas as early as 2023.

Can all these promises be delivered on? It does seem a big ask, but if there is a market for it, there will be an answer…eventually.

Interiors for Lovers of Cars

You can find many different pieces of furniture designed for car lovers such as pool tables, a bubble chair with Herbie’s iconic 53 on it, even impressive watch winders, supercar desks and so on. If you can’t afford the car itself maybe you can afford a car bed? It is after all the next best thing.

A coffee table made of crushed up car parts or car engines may be taking your hobby too far. After all, you might just become sick of cars if you can’t escape them anywhere. They do look seriously weird.

If you want some way to display your books why not have a cabinet which looks like a car driven up the wall? Where exactly they get these ideas from is not known and you might just wonder how popular these ideas are, they look fairly bespoke. Still they have their own websites so people must be buying them.

A refrigerator is also shown. Okay, it’s the right shape for a fridge but it does include the badges and colors of various vehicles; like the VW for instance. Just a novelty fridge, really.

If you can’t afford the hassle of changing your own interior why not take time out at a location where the interior has been changed for you, such as a hotel? It’s certainly a lot less life changing and you might even find ideas you can adapt for your own pad.

The V8 Hotel in the Motorworld Region of Stuttgart is an excellent place for people to visit who are fans of racing cars as well as other car related activities such as running a garage or the actual mechanics of a vehicle. The property used to be an Art Deco designed airport and you can still see the blueprint of that in the current hotel.

The concepts of room include “Mercedes-Benz car wash” and “Cadillac drive-in cinema.” On display in the hallway are various classic and retro cars. You can even watch cars being repaired through a glass wall.

Some of the concepts don’t look very appealing – Would you like to stay in a room with corrugated iron walls or a metallic hood at the foot of the bed? Well, yes it seems that a number of people would. As you can see the design of the room online it’s not that much of a shock when you check-in, except maybe to your significant other. The Wild West room might be a bit tricky to explain though, what’s that got to do with cars? Manly pursuits are probably the key theme.

If your partner doesn’t want to stay in a room that looks like the set of the movie Grease compromise might be a car and spa weekend. For the husband, a driving experience while the reward for his log-suffering wife is a massage. It’s not clear who gets the best deal here? At least it keeps money in circulation.

Car thoughts from those with something to say.

“I replaced the headlamps in my car with strobe lights so it looks like I’m the only one moving” – Steven Wright.

A car is inspirational, but to continue to sell a car driving on the open road can be quite dull. So you need to look into how people treat their car and maybe see how they treat other people as a result, as everything relates to everything else.

It can be seen that the car is the source of a great deal of humor. This is understandable; it is something that most people can relate to. You have that quote from Steven Wright above and also here’s another one from Mitch Hedberg.

“I can look at any car’s headlights and tell you which way it’s going.”

Sometimes people are confused about our attachment with cars and how far it goes.

“I’ve always been into cars. Cars are part of our genetic makeup. It’s unavoidable.” – Matthew Fox.

The love of cars might be thought of some meme that once we get into our head is hard to get back out again. To say that we have something in our chromosomes that links us to cars might be going too far?

How does men’s obsession with cars effect how women see them? Here’s a quote from Rita Rudner.

“To attract men, I wear this cologne called ‘New Car Interior.’”

How exactly you maintain your cars might tell you what kind of person you are, according to those in the know.

“If you own a home with wheels on it and several cars without, it’s just possible you might be a redneck.” – Jeff Foxworthy.

Some people have thoughts that the car has become our personal shell protecting us from the bad stuff in the world:

“The car has become the carapace, the protective and aggressive shell of both urban and suburban man.” – Marshall McLuhan.

It can be scary the stuff people let slip about how they drive their cars.

“I would never kill a living thing, although I probably have inadvertently while driving automobiles.” – Captain Beefheart.

Please note the quotes above have been changed slightly so that they have their own originality. A note to who the people are.

Steven Wright (b 1955) is an American comic, actor and producer known for his one-liners.

Mitch Hedberg  (1968-2005) is also an American comic famed for his surreal humor.

Matthew Fox (b 1966) is an American actor most well-known for his part in Lost (2004-2010)

Rita Rudner (b  1953) is an American comedienne who started her career in New York.

Jeff Foxworthy (b 1958) is American comedian, radio personality and author.

Marshall McLuhan, born Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was a Canadian philosopher and author with an interest in mass media.

Captain Beefheart was the stage name of Don Glen Vliet (1941-2010) a singer, instrumentalist and painter, who collaborated with Frank Zappa, amongst others.

To finish, here is another quote from Steven Wright.

“I have a quantum car. Every time I look at its speedometer I get lost.”

Hybrid Cars – Out of Favor?

Op-Ed by Wimsett and Bunch

Hybrid cars were advertised as the future and many car companies including Toyota, Lexus and Kia seem to be targeting the potential Hybrid buyers. But how green are Hybrids?

The problem seems to come to down CO2. Because of the extra battery weight they actually produce more CO2 than a gas or diesel car of the same engine size. The solution to this must surely be further research; after all, you can’t have a hybrid car or an electric car without some kind of battery. But some countries think otherwise.

The UK plans to stop the production of not only gas and diesel cars but also hybrids by 2035. They also seem to want to get rid of vans, which might be a bit tricky if you are running a delivery business for instance. You can’t just deliver in a normal car. And caravans are important to the tourism industry; it would be damaging to do without them, especially in North America where you need to do a great amount of traveling to get anywhere.

This coming ban is only be a UK thing as, so far, there is no update on what the USA or the EU plans on doing. As for Asia, Africa and South Africa it will be unlikely that these countries will ban any kind of vehicle for the foreseeable future, as they are routinely excluded from strict environmental regulations.

The problem with coming up with a date such as 2035 is that ultimately it is what it is, a date. There is no real incentive to stop car companies creating hybrids or indeed any car that pollutes. In order to make all cars electric at this point there must be a huge amount of investment and education of the public.

Even if you want to have the (current) inconvenience of owning an electric car you are still facing a waiting list to receive one. No car holds its value and because an electric version of a specific brand is more expensive than the gas/diesel alternative a number of families will not be able to afford it. Because electric cars are relatively new to the market it is difficult to get one second hand. EBay comes up with a mere seven results for an electric car, but 2,060 results for a gas car. So it’s no wonder those looking for a used car tend not to be buying electric.

It is not just the car industry, the fashion industry and the plane industry create great pressures on the environment and one may not move without the other. The ultimate tool in the government toolbox is taxing behaviour they believe harmful—which it is very unpopular right now.

The date of 2035 is ambitious, but it is doable? We can only wait and see. Will capitalism bend a knee to environmentalism? Perhaps, yes, but it’ll probably be after the people creating environmental solutions stop creating expensive solutions that are as bad as not taking any action at all.

Cities Built For Cars?

We take it for granted that cities are built for cars, especially in the US and the reasoning behind this originated not long after the automobile. It seems strange that an old English law held sway right up to 1924 that a person on foot or driving was equal in the eyes of the law. However, when you think about it most US laws were patterned after the old world until there was a reason to change them. The goal behind the English law had to do with policeman on a horse trying to own the road.

The entire topic is made up of the stuff that creates arguments. On the one side, you have to obey traffic laws if you’re going to use roads made for cars or you lose your licence to drive on them. It’s common sense that cars need a way to navigate around each other. However, pedestrians have been avoiding each other for centuries without incident or formal laws governing who can walk where. Who is it that thinks its okay to tell an American where they can put there feet?

Well, if you’re feet are in the road meant for vehicles then you’d best abide by the laws of the road. For that matter, it’s a new era with new ways of getting around so it’s common sense that the laws be upgraded to a keep everyone safe.

The History of the New Laws:

It seems that the LA traffic commission were one of the first authorities to question this ruling – after all in a busy city why should everyone slow down to accommodate the slowest moving individuals? It’s one thing to stop at a red light, another not to be able to move at all wile someone toddles across a thoroughfare.

But why did the car become the preferred mode of transport? It would seem strange to us if we still had horse and carriages but why did it become so preferred so quickly? There are two schools of thought, one that those in cities just preferred using cars than travelling on foot or using other vehicles; the other that it was all down to marketing and advertising (ultimately the car industry itself) which made the car such a popular form of travel.

Whether we are free to continue in our own fashion or whether we have to surrender to the mores of technology is not something we have to think about generally. But with possible changes in climate we might just be heading that way.

The idea of an automotive city had its origins in the 1920s but didn’t really take over until about the 1950s, many no doubt felt cars were just a fad that wouldn’t last. But since new cities such as Melbourne, Detroit and LA were built on a grid system which made them easier to travel through in a car it did seem that there was a bundle of money around ensuring that the car would be the ideal way to travel.

It may come down to logistics really, getting things to a certain point before you realised you needed them. In that, the car was supreme – at least at the beginning. Horse drawn vehicles never stood a chance in that basis. The use of trains might be better logistically but even then you don’t have that much choice as a tourist or businessman where you have to go and what time you get there. The car is so much better.

So the car got the privilege of being the master of the road. And pedestrians and to some extent, trains had to follow the path they took (not literally, but trains took on “transport corridors” which travel in the same direction of the road, almost as if the train is a substitute car). It’s one of the little ways that cars rule that we don’t even notice.

In Europe and places that didn’t grow up with the age of cars many roads exist that are too small for cars. These generally become pedestrian walkways or alleyways. Cities have to be retrofitted to accommodate cars, so pedestrians and mass transit hold more sway. But in America were the city grew alongside the auto industry the city accommodated the car.

Nowadays it is harder to design a city for cars, there are just too many of them. And why not look at other transport systems, just to make other ways to travel around?

The pedestrian controversy has reignited, in LA of all places, where octogenarian received a gash to his noggin battling police who were trying to site him for “jay-walking.” The very term Jaywalking has come under fire as it’s become more well known that the term used to be an insult to country bumpkins. The auto industry felt the best way to curb this random walk where you want tradition was to associate it with people who weren’t urban and sophisticated. It seems to have worked. But lets take a step back and ask ourselves how offensive it is these days to call someone a “Jay?” To shun the term is pretty ridiculous.

The auto industry employed boy scouts to hand out pamphlets to people caught Jaywalking, which is probably where we got the imagery of boy scouts helping old ladies across the street.

At the end of the day there is one factor that should weigh heavy in the argument over who gets the right of way—the laws not of man, but of physics. In Portland, OR. Citizens are given right of way over cars, as are bicycles. As a result, a pedestrian could stumble out from behind a random white panel van, mere feet in front of a car that’s traveling 20 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. The results are that the pedestrian who believes him/herself to be anointed by God and the City of Portland as impervious to several tons of steel learns too late that being “right” doesn’t replace common sense, and the driver of the vehicle get arrested for manslaughter. Is this good governance? You decide.

The History of Herbie

At the time of year we gorge ourselves on movies on TV and especially Disney movies.

When it comes to car characters from Disney the most famous is probably Herbie. The majority of the population probably know that he had red, white,and blue racing stripes and the number 53 on his hood. Is that his registration number or something? No! The that was California Plate OFP 357. So why the 53? Read to the end and we’ll tell you.

He first appeared in the 1968 movie The Love Bug. He was owned by Peter Thorndyke (David Tomlinson) and although briefly owned by Mrs Van Luit it was mainly owned by Jim Douglas (played by Dean Jones). Only then did Herbie acquire his name. The name was coined by Tennessee Steinmetz (played by Buddy Hackett) and he named him after his Uncle Herb, who as a boxer acquired a nose shaped like a VW Beetle.

The car goes to Tennessee’s aunt in Herbie Rides Again Mrs Steinmetz (played by Helen Hayes, also famous for being in One of Our Dinosaurs Are Missing). It appears that Herbie now has the power to bring other Beetles to life. This is the only movie which doesn’t show Herbie as a race car.

For some reason Herbie is racing again in Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo in the Trans-France race, apparently by Jim Douglas again. The car develops a crush on Lancia Montecarlo. These were sports cars made in the 1970s and early ‘80s by Fiat. Because they had a rep of being noisy cars and susceptible to corrosion they didn’t last long. They were however more popular racing cars than the VW Beetle.

In Herbie Goes Bananas Herbie is passed to Pete Stancheck (Stephen W Burns), Jim Douglas’s nephew and is entered into the Brazil Grand Primeo, only it seems to get lost on a cruise ship and befriended by Paco (Joaquin Garay III) and is disguised as a taxi in Mexico. Paco takes to calling Herbie “ocho” which at the end of the movie is explained as “eight,” because 5 +3 = 8.

Although Herbie was used as a driving instructor’s car in the TV show The Love Bug (also featuring Jim Douglas) it is back racing again in the 1997 TV movie, also called The Love Bug. The car is now owned by Hank Cooper. The movie features an evil counterpart to Herbie in Horace, the Hate Bug. Later in the movie Jim Douglas returns and Herbie begins racing again.

In the 2005 film Herbie: Fully Loaded he is bought by Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan) and is modified to a 2002-cc engine car. As well as the normal races he also enters a demolition derby. Again Herbie falls in love, this time with another Beetle.  

As well as the movies and TV series Herbie has also appeared on the Mickey Mouse Club in 1990 and in two video racing games. He has also appeared in extreme stunt shows at Disney theme parks and has even appeared on Disney on Ice and cameoed on The Simpsons. Not bad for a car which is more than 60 years old. No doubt he’s appeared in a movie over the holidays this year. Either way, “the love bug” is a great post for a car blog on Valentines Day.

So why does Herbie bear the numbers 53 on his side? According to metv.com Love Bug producer Bill Walsh was a huge Don Drysdale fan. As in the Dodgers Baseball Don Drysdale. This probably accounts for not only the 53 but the red and blue racing stripes as well.

PS: perhaps the craziest bit of trivia about the love bug is that it’s generally accepted fact that the movie is based on the book “Car, Boy, Girl,” by Gordon Buford. However, this book doesn’t seem to exist. You won’t find it on Amazon, in book store, or in the Library of Congress. It’s possible that the book was snatched up by Disney and while they adapted it for screen they never finished publishing the original novel.

The Vital Components of the Mini.

By Paul Wimsett, UK Desk

The 1960s was all about miniskirts and the Mini itself. The Mini has a stronger link to the sixties than the Beatles or satire, as the Mini was launched in 1960 itself, the satire boom and the creation of Beatles occurred in 1963.

The Origins of the Mini:

Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, who although born in Greece inherited British citizenship through his father and like many immigrants, saw himself as more English than the English. Many of the cars he designed, the Austin and the Morris Minor had a distinctive look about them, cars for a small family rather than cars where you could sit people in the back seat and in the trunk. BTW: Kids in the trunk is totally illegal now, but common at the time to make use of all the necessary space in a saloon car. (BTW: a “saloon car” is a sedan.)

The reasoning behind the car was purely practical, there was a fuel shortage after the Second World War and generally only the breadwinner needed to get around. So many households made do with a single, small car.

The Mini Cooper was one of the first designs to be used as part of this first generation. The first car had an 848cc engine, or 34bhp (brake horsepower), the equivalent to about 25Kw; so practically all the power of a modern boiler. Obviously this had to change. A modern Cooper has around 160bhp or the equivalent of 119 Kw, around five times as much.

As well as showing itself as an excellent racing car in the 1960s, it was driven by such diverse personalities as Paul McCartney, Steve McQueen and even rival car maker Enzo Ferrari. It all came down to convenience and the Mini was the ideal car for the time, working on the success of similar small cars.

The Future of the Mini:

The Mini has been an iconic car for a number of decades, but for how much longer can it continue? Ultimately, it all comes down whether it can ride the storm of Brexit in Britain and whether it can continue to offer something from its competition with less money to play with.

Let’s take a Mini Countryman it’s a modern type of car, still a Mini but using the Crossover status. Some are known as Countryman Coopers, some are not.

With a length of 2,670 mm and a width of 4,313 mm (which exclude the mirrors). The standard Cooper has a weight of 3,300 Ib.

A Mini Cooper has a 0-60 rate of 7.3 secs. (The average is about 10-12 seconds). A Porsche Skyrider can do 0-60 in about 2.1, but then not everyone wants to drive a sports car. The acceleration rate is dependent on the power of the engine, so we can assume that the Cooper has a better than average powered engine- not something you might associate with a small car?

In the End:

It should come as no shock that Sir Alec become known as a “Greek God” in British car innovation. It would difficult to write the story of the British car industry without him and Britons hope that Mini manufacture will continue into the future.

A Look at Car Health

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In January, we take a look at how we might change our lifestyle. So why don’t we look at our cars as well? Nowadays you don’t even need a mechanic–you can diagnose the problem itself.

Well, the word “diagnose” is a bit strong. Look at it this way. You see the light on your dash that says something is wrong? You still don’t know what’s wrong. Well you can, if you have a car health monitor.

They’ve had code readers for a long time. Think of it this way. Your car has a number of sensors on critical parts. If you have low oil pressure for example it triggers the engine light. So all these sensors are triggering the same light, but your car knows which one was triggered and if you get a code reader, it will tell you which one.

External Diagnostic Devices

Aside from getting a better description of a problem than just a dash light, the other reason to get some sort of car health monitor is peace of mind at the mechanic. How much more confident would you feel walking you’re your mechanic and saying, I’m pretty sure my alternator is shot,” vs saying, “my car sometimes won’t start.”

You feel the difference? You might not have a clue what an alternator is, but how much faster are you going to get answers to simple questions like, “when could you have this done,” or “what’s it going to run me to fix this?”

With the old method your mechanic grins broadly and says, leave it with me for the day and I’ll call you when I know what’s up. Then he hooks up the same machine you could buy…when he gets around to it…later today.

Another place that has a car health monitor is the auto parts store. Although they have their own health monitoring service it will save you a trip if you purchase one of your own. If your problem doesn’t need to be fixed right now you’ll wait for the weekend, if you have to go to the store to find out what’s wrong, you’ll end up buying the part while you’re there.

Is there a difference between a simple code reader and a diagnostic? Yes! An external diagnostic can read into the code or even double check the reading that are causing the diagnostic. Some are even programmed to check against the way that engine type is meant to operate. It’s a language interpreter of sorts.

OnBoard Diagnostics

This type of monitor is the OnBoard Diagnostics which started in the early 1990s. It could be said that these tools are in the second generation of development, though having said that OBD-II came out as early as 1996.

There are various different types of device, the most common of which is a type of scanner which operates by plugging into your scanner and displaying the car’s info on a little screen. The simplest of these can only show the Check Engine codes, but the more advanced models can give a whole variety of codes for whatever predicament.

If you’re confused about why we’re talking about plugging something in when it’s called an OnBoard Diagnostic it’s because there is a port where you engines computer can attach to an external code reader or diagnostic, and an OBD can just stay plugged into that port, then broadcast wirelessly to your phone or other device.

What all does my ODB monitor?

Things that can always be shown on the scanner are fuel rate, the voltage of the O2 sensor, the voltage level of the battery and the time that your engine has been running, even for something like a loose fuel cap. The idea of the scanner is to show you information beyond the simple flashing lights on the dashboard.

OBD Ports

It has been illegal since 1996 to not include an OBD port in a vehicle, though of course older vehicles will have to rely on the older type of scanner. The port has sixteen pins and it is regular practise for mechanics to use the port in order to work out the fault with the car.

There are various protocols associated with these ports. A protocol is dependent on what type of vehicle it is, for instance is it a Ford or a General Motors vehicle? In 2008 the Controller Area Network was introduced and all vehicles have to use the same protocol.

With a special USB adaptor attached to the port you can read these codes from your laptop, rather than a scanner screen. Most of these tools do work the same way though. Alternatively some of them work via an app on the regular type of tablets and smart phones. Some produce current data (also known as “live data”) so you know that there is a problem as soon as it occurs. The phrase “peace of mind” must surely be mentioned here.

Secret Updates and Prototypes.

Prototype Cars

Now that cars are connected, your automaker will often download updates remotely, but even cars that aren’t on-line often receive a small upgrade during manufacturing that cars the month before didn’t get.

Why would you hide the improvements in a car? Well it’s all to do keeping things from the competition. If things are the development stage it might be that the improvement is not carried into production, in which case it may well be snapped up by the competition.

Take the BMW which has updated headlights and taillights. The only reason that anyone knows about it is that BMW released this information. So BMW didn’t make a big promotion around their new concept lights, they just quietly upgraded their production model and then later in the year they announced that it had been done. This could be because they had many units on show room floors with the old type of light, that wouldn’t sell if people knew the upgraded lights were on their way.

Industrial Espionage

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There is such a thing as industrial espionage, but it tends to be about stealing technological advantages. The kind of corporate espionage that leads to releasing information to the public revolves around safety issues etc.

Prototypes

 

By far the most common type of secret upgrade is the upgrades to the design being considered for future production models. The reason for keeping these prototypes secret may seem obvious. Of course, they don’t want competitors to steal the design, but also car makers also test out ideas that don’t actually go into production. It’s hard to get the public to feel warm about a car if a popular potential feature disappears before the real production design is decided.

Things Automakers do to Hide Upgrades

Sometimes part of a vehicle is obscured, as is the case with this new BMW, when a cloth was placed over the dashboard when the car made early public appearances. It created rumors of a new infotainment system, but it seems the manufacturer isn’t giving that much away.

Car manufacturers have secured test facilities, but they’ve not had much luck keeping prying eyes completely away. So automakers often test early prototypes in these facilities and when a design gets more recognizable, like the 2020 Nissan Centra, then the new prototype is tested in the desert. In countries where this is not possible, anywhere out of the reach of prying eyes.

Back in the day, automakers would go a step further and cover the headlamps and grilles with tape to keep the exact model a little more mysterious. Nowadays they employ a process called “pattern wrapping.”

Pattern Wrapping:

What is pattern wrapping? Well it’s the equivalent of pasting a car up and applying wallpaper to it. There are a myriad of designs, starting with something basic like zigzags or diamonds and moving into something like a paisley pattern and moving into weirder shapes and patterns. You may have seen some pattern-wrapped cars and wondered why someone would want to camouflage their sports sedan. The goal is to make it difficult for a competitor to computer scan the vehicle and make educated guesses at the features being hidden.pattern 1

You might have thought that any pattern could be applied to a car, but this seems to be not the case. The pride in manufacture of a car extends to getting the best pattern to hide it!

Specialist designers are employed to do this task. While the idea of the pattern is through off the specific car its worth mentioning that certain manufacturers like certain artwork. Ford for instance tends to go for something calligraphic, while General Motors prefers a geometric pentagon design. It’s not clear whether these manufacturers like the designers or the design when they do this.

Another reason for keeping a prototype secret is that some prototypes don’t really go into production. The home office may ultimately drop the ensemble while choosing to move some of the elements to existing product lines.

For example, with something like the Cayenne Cabriolet. (A cabriolet is a car with a roof that folds down.) If you are trying to combine a folding top with an SUV, two questions need to be resolved:

  • From a design standpoint, what would it even look like?
  • Would the buying public really want it?

Porsche seem to have some plans in this direction, but as hinted to above it’s a bit difficult to work out and it’s a bad idea to show the public something if plans are going into fruition.