4 Benefits of Detailing Your Car

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Think auto detailing is a “splurge” or something you should only do when you’re getting ready to sell?

That’s like thinking you can do just as good of a job professionally cleaning your house, landscaping your yard, or doing your hair. Yes, practice can mean you do a better job each time—but is it worth it? Professional auto detailers have more experience, better tools, and much more practice than you could ever muster on your own.

In fact, there are many benefits to regular auto detailing that the average driver overlooks. Yes, it’s important to get your car washed on a regular basis (especially during rain seasons!) and spending a few quarters on the vacuuming machine can pick up major crumbs and debris. However, that DIY approach is more like maintenance in between regular details. Here are a few benefits to detailing you’re probably overlooking and why you (and your ride) deserve better:cleaning-1837328__340

  1. Get Rid of Scratches

From falling pine cones to setting that shopping bag on the hood for “just a minute” your car looks nothing like it did brand new—but it can. Only a professional exterior detailing can remove tiny scratches, minimize paint fading, and address any swirls that might have appeared. Plus, it helps ensure that your car stays in prime condition for longer. Only trained professionals know exactly what materials and solutions to use for your paint job and can dish up those kinds of results.

  1. Stay Cleaner Longer

cleaning-1837333_1920An object in motion tends to stay in motion—and a car that’s clean tends to stay clean. The reality is that the cleaner your car is, the longer it will stay that way. Thanks to protective treatments that resist dirt as well as the desire to keep that gorgeous shine going as long as possible, this is a healthy habit to get into.

  1. Boost Your Mood, Self-Esteem, Confidence and Success

There’s no denying that a detailed car catches admiring glances. Many owners are shocked at just how good their car can look after a proper detailing (and not just a run through the car wash). However, aesthetics can do more than have you admiring your car in a store window while parked at a stop light. Just like how you’re more confident when you’re looking your best, you can get the same boost form a great looking car.

  1. Retain the Car’s Value

Whether you’re looking to sell right now or not, a car that’s maintained has a higher value. You might get a sudden offer in a parking lot you can’t refuse when your car is detailed. You might fall in love with a new car on a whim and want maximum trade-in value. Detailing is curb appeal for your car, and it’s something you should prioritize if you want the most bang for your buck.

 

Bear in mind that not all detailers are created equally. Do your research and choose a shop that specializes in customized detailing packages with glowing reviews. After all, if their reviews aren’t sparkling, what does that say about their detailing?

 

Keeping Your Car Ticking Over

 

auto-3582662_1920By Paul Wimsett (our U.K. contributor, so it’s best to read it with an accent)

If you have invested a great amount of your savings into a car it makes sense that you want to make sure it is constantly working, especially if you use it on your commute. Some states require a yearly emissions check. Car inspections are performed at garages marked with the “Official Inspection Station” sign.

Speaking of ticking, there are many noises that can indicate something is wrong with the car (clinking, ticking etc.) and it is a good idea to check them if they continue for a long time. It may just be a lack of oil but it is always worth looking into any problems. It is important to consider that the older a car is the more likely you are to have problems.

One of the best things you can do with most cars is run them, don’t leave them sulking in the garage. Having said that, driving a car for too many miles artificially ages the car reducing it’s value.

Ways to increase performance and reliability include:

One way of making your car work better is to make it lighter. Have an AUX unit instead of a stereo. The unit itself is lighter and so will be your wallet.

It might be a good idea to improve the exhaust. If the exhaust isn’t able to flow from your car as quickly as it’s produced fuel economy suffers.

Fix everything as soon as it goes wrong. The less you drive it broken the less chance of additional wear and tear.

Spark plugs and air filters tend to need replacing and this is two jobs most people don’t get around to doing.

Most people don’t think of using the best oil in their car but the best performance is all about using the best raw materials, many people don’t realize that you can change how well your car operates simply by changing to a better brand of oil.

If your car was made a while ago, you may benefit from polyurethane bushings. This is a relatively recent improved technology, which upgrades your suspension and stops you from having a jolty ride. Not only will you be more comfortable but there’s a little less wear on your car’s parts as well.

audi-rs6-2934125_1920There is a strange idea that cars left alone in the sun actually become harder and in order to test this a piece of aluminum alloy was left in the sun for 6-8 hours reaching temperatures of about 150°. The results seemed to show a marked difference, so if you want to prevent premature aging, you need to make sure it’s in the sun. Of course, most people prefer entering a car which is sitting in the shade.

It makes sense to ensure that your car is the best; it’s safer, more reliable, and better for resale. It is all about making sure your car is efficient, fast and strong. You can come across as an obsessive, but so what? If your car is important to you and you want to prevent breakdown you have to look at these things.

A Non-Obsessive Look At Automobilia.

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What we mean by automobilia? Well, anything that is collectible and involves motor vehicles really. That would include a tiny stamp that contains pictures of cars to a great big huge juggernaut. A car stamp album would no doubt include the stamps created by Tom Fritz, including the classic 1970’s Chevrolet and a 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona.

Collecting can seem quite a nerdy subject, so how do you brighten up your collection? One way might be if display car parts is to paint them bright colors, maybe multicolors or create camouflage shades. Make them unique to you in some way. Collections may be based on specific vehicles or vehicles which come from certain places. For instance, a Detroit collection may include items related to General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

Temp ImageOne of the cheaper items to collect is antenna toppers, mainly made by the Aerialballs.com company. There are a few antenna toppers to be found on the Etsy website. Of course, Pinterest is the ideal social media to display your wears and look for ideas. When you are looking for new designs to create don’t just steal someone else’s idea, try and improve on it.

car-2691564_1920.jpgIt is a good idea to start small and move up to something big like hood ornaments, which is probably the most expensive piece of automobilia you can collect before starting on the whole car. While hood ornaments have transitioned to hood badges for safety reasons they were essential to early car branding and therefore inseparable from car culture in the minds of many enthusiasts. We discussed that in this post on Branding and Auto Badges. Hood ornaments have in interesting history we will cover in an upcoming post but it evolved into various art deco shapes such as the Spirit of Ecstasy, the Rolls Royce brand. Custom hood ornaments are still made, like in Texas its common practice to use a pair of horns (called longhorns) as a hood ornament.

As for mid-ranged automobilia one idea is personalized number plates. However, it’s not as simple as buying them off Ebay. This item gets associated with a particular VIN number and in some cases was probably issued to someone in a particular situation. Collector plates, depending on the laws of a particular state, don’t expire. Classic car plates can have a restriction on how far you can drive them on an actual road. ADA plates might become illegal when not owned by someone with a disability, though it’s doubtful you’ll get a ticket when it’s hanging on the wall of your garage. You may have to consult your attorney to make sure you own it.

There are so many different areas to collect it might seem overwhelming for the beginner.

Another factor is if you intend to resell items for a profit. Obtaining items from abroad, one example could be Michelin Man items from France (also called Bibendum), may result in heavy postage and maybe import tax to pay. A better way is to obtain items from someone who is just happening to go abroad, don’t let sundry costs eat up your profit or worse cost more than you can recover.

It is always a good idea to look into the amount of space you want to use for your collection – are you talking about a shelf, a whole room or even a whole house?

Secondly, you want to look into the amount you want to spend. A decent collection is bound to cost more, but it is always best to look for items at the cheapest places first, such as garage sales and non-specialist auctions. When you have the budget you can always branch out.

Automobile Jobs – What Might Change?

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Technology is the primary force driving changes in employment within the automotive industry. The increase of technology in cars and manufacturing is both an opportunity and a curse. As driving jobs are clearly threatened by AV’s (self-driving vehicles) new jobs are created like analytic engineers, 3D printing technicians and cybersecurity experts.

It’s a whole new game with cybersecurity since cars are getting ever more open to being hacked without physical contact. Why break to steal a car when you can hack it and tell it to drive to you. Then again, even an unsuccessful hack to a moving vehicle could prove fatal for dozens of people. The process of cybersecurity is needed to stop undesirables getting hold of self-drive cars in a process called “car hacking” where the dashboard and gearbox can be accessed from a distance. As a result, jobs are created for “white-hat” hackers who test the systems.

Engineering analysis is about applying the scientific process of analysis to work out how different forces react to the automobile. This area is also interested in remote systems. Another position that has existed but will now change radically is the drivability expert. This person used to evaluate the design for ergonomics and ease of operation. This position going forward will require experience with UXUI (user experience user interface) so that computer controls are intuitive instead of distracting.

There will also be a rise in jobs concerning electric and hybrid cars. Because they both require the need for better battery technology, this area of research is vital to improving the car driving experience.

cars-35082_1280On the assembly line, automation has been taking over for a long time. Some 800 million jobs could be affected by the change worldwide as robots begin doing the work people do now. It’s actually likely that many of these jobs will transition to part-time instead of being laid off, but it remains to be seen how unions will respond.

It seems whatever happens the Big Three companies; General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler will continue to be the biggest employers in America, also known as the Detroit Three.  Statistics are confused but it seems that 10% of American jobs (that is 14 million) will be at risk if these companies plummeted. Luckily that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon.

It seems sometimes that cars must be built in Michigan. Forbes.com points to Fiat Chrysler moving a plant from Mexico back to Michigan. Although the car companies concentrate on Detroit technology is bringing in new players and we shouldn’t be surprised if they’re headquartered in Silicon Valley. Germany is also a big testing area for autonomous cars and engineers there are collaborating with designers in Canada and programmers in India to create the next wave of car for none other than Apple.inc.

It is difficult not to include politics in the discussion since tariffs are all over the news. It’s not just the tariffs on imported cars; the cost of steel has a huge impact on car makers. Although it does mean that fewer cars will be imported from abroad and international companies such as Toyota and Honda will increase the domestic manufacture of cars for the US market.

There has been an increase in the number of dealerships since 2014, which should mean there are more jobs for salesmen and lot porters, etc. (according to Staticia.com). Most gas stations went to self-pay a while ago so those job losses are mostly absorbed. So far it seems that jobs in Highway rest areas seem to be fairly stable and have been for decades; the only threat to these jobs would be high gas prices, higher freeway speeds, and affordable train or airline fares–so little threat there.

Technology is impacting jobs across the board but the simple lesson to draw here is that if you aren’t growing you’re withering. Always keep your skills up to date.

Are EV’s (Electric Vehicles) the Future?

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By Staff

At the Kicker, we’ve given a lot of attention to AV’s (Autonomous Vehicles) and touched upon EV’s (Electronic Vehicles) a little in passing because the two types of car are closely aligned in our minds.

Perhaps its time to dig into EV’s a bit deeper by themselves. Let’s start with a little clarification. In the mind of most consumers EV’s and Hybrids sort of run together, but there’s a difference and it matters.

car-engine-231213_1920.jpgHybrids use a gas engine to assist an electronic engine. This gives a sort of best of both worlds experience. When an electric engine would be adequate, ie the around town stuff, then you have that. On long trips, the gas engine kicks in to top off the batteries. The gas engine also assists when power is needed, not because you can’t get good power from an electric engine but because you don’t really need a big electric engine just for a few occasions when it’s needed and the gas engine is just sitting there.

EV’s don’t carry a way to generate power unless you count regenerative braking systems (which turn forward velocity back into power to slow the car and recapture electricity). EV’s rely on batteries to store power from a source.

EV’s comes with some advantages and some disadvantages. One potential advantage is that electric power can be generated by multiple fuel sources, which in theory allows each area to use the most cost-effective source to power your car. It’s certainly true that most electricity is created locally, unlike oil which is bought as crude, often from nations that don’t align perfectly with US ideology. However, the fact remains that some source of power is required and you can’t really find a generation source that’s truly free of controversy.

Another advantage to EV’s is that without gallons of flammable, even combustible, fuel on board, the risk of fire and explosion is cut way down. Making them safer to operate and cheaper to insure.

electric-car-734573_1920Another controversy is the batteries themselves which are hazardous to dispose of and rely on material that’s mined in places that don’t really align with US ideology.

For whatever reason, consumers haven’t taken to EV’s as enthusiastically as manufacturers and environmentalists had hoped. Laws are coming soon to force the issue, essentially banning new car sales of petroleum powered vehicles. This would include hybrids depending on which version of which countries bill you’re referring to.

This article by DriveTribe identifies potential sources of consumer resistance:

Range Anxiety – EV’s top out at or below 300 miles, which wouldn’t be a big deal if you could charge them as quickly as you can fill up at a gas station.

Investment Anxiety – As with any new technology we’ve yet to see if EV’s are more or less reliable mechanically, but we’re pretty sure they will cost more to fix. We do know how long we can use a cell phone before we need to trade it in or buy a new battery…about a year…and most of us don’t want to get caught up in that racket with something a pricey as a car.

Just Not A Proper Vehicle – Which doesn’t seem quite rational because anything that gets you around is a vehicle. If we stop to think about it, nuclear subs are pretty cool and they don’t run on gas. But as we’ve mentioned many times at the Kicker, there is a certain romance around cars, which is fading, but not as quickly as many folks expected.

Side Note about the fading romance with cars: For much of the car’s existence it represented freedom. Cars expanded our range the way horses let the Tartars build a vast empire. A teenager couldn’t wait to get a vehicle because it uncoupled him/her from their parents. However, clogged freeways, mass transit, online shopping, social media and cheap rideshare companies have eroded our desire to sit many hours a day in a car.

So what would overcome these concerns, and the others too numerous to list here?

Well, not all disadvantages are created equal. One key is going to be infrastructure. We will need enough charging stations to meet our anxiety level and we’ll need them to charge in about the same time frame we can refuel. This isn’t too far away, at least in the U.K. where shell and the National Grid have invested in creating dozens of charge stations capable of fast charging your car in as little as ten minutes. electric-car-2728143_1920

Cost is another huge factor. The reality for most Americans is that we lack the money to invest. Assuming an EV’s low of fuel costs are enough to make them overall cheaper to operate than fuel engines, then you’re exchanging a higher upfront cost in the hopes of making it up over the lifetime you own the vehicle. This may not be a reality until we start seeing more EV’s on the used car market.

The final ingredient that might nudge the American consumer sentiment towards EV’s is to conquer the range issue. A range over 400 miles would be more needed in a place like America than it is in the UK or Europe due simply to the amount to road and sprawl we have and the lack of an alternative transportation in the 400-mile to 800-mile range. Unless you get a smoke’n deal from an airline it’s cheaper and easier to drive your personal vehicle to the in-laws (and the train is just as expensive but the slowest option of all).

One hopes that a market solution is used to push consumers toward EV’s, if in fact, they are cheaper, safer, and more environmentally friendly. The laws banning new combustion engine sales prior to fixing the issues listed above seems like the kind of laws that work some places and not others.

How New Are The New Years Features?

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Ever notice that every year we get a new model of the same line each automaker made the year before? Well, it’s not a coincidence. When car designers and marketers collaborate to create the new models of car for sale they often start with the features in the last model to see what might be incorporated in a new design.

Why Not Start From Scratch?

While an automaker may decide they have identified a market segment they haven’t yet exploited which requires a whole new model of car, there’s a reason you generally just get a new year’s version of last year’s model. The reason is they’ve sunk a lot of money into establishing that model, creating name/style recognition and reputation, for that model and a certain number of people will buy it simply because they’re looking to replace their old version of that same vehicle.

20180725_111838It’s a big decision to discontinue a model line and it’s not always replaced with a new model in that category. Sometimes it signals a retreat from that category entirely. One example would be when, in 2008, Ford announced that they would no longer continue to produce minivans for sale in the US market. The Aerostar line seemed plagued with reliability issues and sales were lukewarm compared to competitors. Ford needed to start from scratch and that included letting the consumer forget the bad taste in their mouths around the failed minivan.

Then in 2010, Ford returned to the minivan market with their Transit Connect Eurostyle model of delivery van. Given the trend of a family vehicle from Station Wagon to Minivan to SUV, the gamble y Ford to return to minivans seemed a bit crazy. But their strategy included manufacturing the vans as cargo vehicles outside the US and then importing them to be retrofitted as passenger vehicles domestically. This lets them tip their toes back into the minivan market without a full-blown commitment. It also gave them a way to introduce a vehicle that looked so different from it’s predecessor that it didn’t bring the failed Aerostar back to mind. The gamble seems to have paid off.

The Goal is Reinvention:

Selling a car is a strange type of alchemy, as with anything else, it’s impossible to know whether a new style of car or even a new brand will sell. Usually, it’s safer to simply update and add features while staying within the same price point and target market.

car-2220039_1920There’s always something that can be tweaked, for instance, color. Can we upgrade the suspension and add a roof rack and call it a sports package? Silver is currently the most popular color for cars, but that changes decade by decade. It’s quite tricky to know when tastes in car color will change.

However, the most frequent type of big change is to reinvent the existing line. When creating a new car it’s all about the little improvements, can a two-door work as a four-door? Can a gas car work as a diesel, or maybe as a hybrid? The cars may have similarities to what has gone before, but the small differences make the car.

The First Thing to Look at is the Consumers Need:

Consumer need and desires will change over time. What sells now will not be what sells in a decade’s time, or even in five or six years. This is why new models need to be designed. Even bigger shifts occur though when the actual consumer make up changes.

In the 1980’s it was all about bigger audacious cars, perhaps because automakers were still targeting predominately the male, young-urban-professional. Even though women had been entering the workforce in droves the car industry still perceived that men made the car purchase decisions for families. Cars targeted at women were sporty for single women or second vehicles. This has now changed.

Nowadays, with mass transit, we aren’t so interested in people who live in the bigger cities, though we are still interested in those who work for the big companies. Fuel economy is a winning consideration regardless of gender but the primary family vehicle needs to appeal to women regardless of who actually ends up driving it. The second vehicle is often a truck which may still need to have room for four or five passengers.

In other words, the best sellers are going to be gender neutral small, easily parked cars, or big max passenger vehicles cars, but either way with the best gas mileage possible.

It’s Not All About Size:

The biggest changes may be on the inside. The general trend from year to year is making the car easier to operate. To make it interesting let’s go way back to the earliest Ford’s.

When Ford went from the Model “T” to the Model “A” the outside differences were mainly:

  1. The Model T has a straight line across the top of the radiator core; the A has a double curve dipping in the middle that looks somewhat like the top of a valentine heart.
  2. The vertical sides of the T radiator shell are perpendicular and parallel; those of the A slant outwards going down and are not parallel.
  3. The A has a gas cap in the middle of the cowl; the T has a rectangular vent door there.
  4. The A has smoother, rounder front fenders.
  5. The T headlights are painted; the A headlights are shiny metallic.
  6. The A usually has a black horn immediately below the left headlight.

And so one…pretty small stuff really.

ford-164406_1280On the inside, however, the car went from having a pedal for every gear including “reverse” and “reverse slow,” to having a transmission and stick shift. The ease of drive move didn’t reduce the cost to build the car, this was a direct result of the consumer base expanding when the car became easier to operate.

Of course, the 1927 “T” and the 1928 “A” were more alike than the 1928 “A” was to many of the later “Model A’s.” The Model “A” Ford had so many different styles that it wouldn’t be considered now one make of car. Some versions had two doors, some had four doors, some were a sedan (that is, had an obvious trunk area). Because the car had so many different functions (mail car, taxi cab, etc.) it wasn’t practical to make all the cars the same.

My How Things Change:

traffic-3404254_1920Compare those early models to the current successful model is eye-opening. The most popular car in 2018 was the Honda CR-V, which according to carandriver.com, is a compact car which uses some of the features of a hatchback. Described like that, it’s clear Honda’s not trying to break new ground when they could just give the American public what they like at the moment.

Although what is in vogue in car design changes all the time the Honda CR-V went on the market in 1997 so that’s a good deal of staying. It only really caught on in the American market in 2007, whereas people in Japan or the UK have begun looking for a different make of car. A car maker that can ride a successful design from one country to another without making a significant redesign is a company that’s making money hand over fist.

One Trend Above All:

How does the Honda CR-V and the Model A compare to drive? Well both need gas and oil and new tires once in a while. But the Model A has strange arrangements of levers and rods (such as the choke rod), as with all modern cars, with the Honda it’s mirror, signal, maneuver and then put the key in the ignition. So an automaker is never wrong to focus on easier driving in new year models.

Over ninety or so years many things have changed about a car but they are still about getting from point A to point B in relative comfort and quickly. What never changes is the need to new your customer.

Stuck? It’s all in the manual.

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For most cars, there is a manual that shows you how to keep them ticking. I’m speaking of a car repair manual, not an owner’s manual. The car repair manual shouldn’t be confused with the manual that comes from the manufacturer which is usually kept in the glove compartment, forgotten until you get a light on your dash. I’m speaking of a book to consult because you own that type of car—even before something has had a chance to go wrong.

The goal is to be thorough:

  • How to take the car apart and put it back right
  • How to figure out what might be wrong
  • Give you the information to decide if you can take it on yourself or should seek a professional

One of the big names in the car manual arena is Haynes, covering 300 different makes of car and 130 makes of motorcycle. While there are technical manuals aimed at professional and semi-pro mechanics, Haines targets the amateur, do it yourself, owner.

Haines manuals began with the humblest of starts—when he bought an Austin 7 for £15, the equivalent of $160 today and wrote his first article about it. In that first article, Haynes wrote more about building special parts for the car rather than maintenance as such. For his first actual guide, Haynes chose not to write about the Austin Healey Sprite; an open top sports car which ceased being made in 1971. Clearly, he was our type of car guy.

John Haynes wrote yet one more car book while doing National Service with the Royal Airforce. National Service was a common occurrence for people in their 20s during the early 1950s. He didn’t launch his publishing house, J. H. Haynes & Co. Limited, until 1960.

The books concerned themselves with covering the whole process of repair step by step. The original work was created using a steel duplicator, also known as a mimeograph, which is similar to what you might find in a teachers resource room at a local grade school. A useful bit of kit, but not created for manufacturing of books. As they became more commercially successful, more conventional means of printing were found.

The Haines manuals have been written in 15 different languages. If this seems quite small, think about trying to translate a technical manual, especially if techniques of service and maintenance differ in the countries involved. Another problem is that some components may be unavailable in specific areas. Haynes is now owned by the Chilton Company, who started their business writing cycling magazines and is now one of the largest publishing companies in the world.

You can find repair manuals on various items of automobile equipment such as battery chargers, GPS and even trailers. There are a number of websites you can search for the right manual, which kinds of begs the question why you shouldn’t just search for what is going wrong with your car. Still, people like manuals and many can be obtained for free, sometimes in the form of PDFs.

Due to the amount of litigation involved, car manuals have become larger and larger. This may be a problem if you want to find the information quickly.

It would be a shame if the manual, whether the manufacturer’s manual or one created by aficionados of the car were suddenly removed. The act of publishing a manual kind of shows that people are taking interest in the “technical feat” of building a car, much more than several pages on the internet.

If it weren’t adding something to the owner’s experience manufacturers would surely give up on producing their owner’s manual just to save the money. As for Haynes, the aficionado’s manual is like a nice set of tools. It says you care about your vehicle enough to be personally involved with it. Hopefully car lovers continue to buy them, and hopefully, guys like Haines keep making them.

Why We Hate Parking So Much

 

girl-923101_1920What generates about 29 billion dollars for the US every year?

No, it’s not the manufacturer of a certain car but the habit of needing somewhere to park them. It may be one of the first things you learn on in your driving test, but that doesn’t mean everyone likes to do it, and we feel like the butt of some joke when we can’t do it right.

It is strange to talk about “parking growth areas” but that’s the term used by people who have to study these trends. States like California have noticed an increase in the rate of increased need. That’s a tongue twister.

Most parking lots exist for employees, but not by a large margin. There is also student parking, airport parking, stadium parking, and parking to shop at the mall. Any building which is constantly visited needs somewhere to people to park. But then again, so do various gardens, national parks and so on. The most dreaded of all parking is “ON THE STREET.”

It comes as no surprise that the parking meter was an American invention although it wasn’t created by someone in New York or Los Angeles but for Oklahoma City. The name parking meter is a corruption of the brand name of the first parking meter, the “Park-O-Meter.” Surprisingly, Park-O-Meter didn’t take off as a business model, probably because the metered spots were in a lot, rather than kerbside parking spaces as we tend to see it today. The also charged 5 cents to park for 15 minutes, which seems cheap until you learn that this is the equivalent of a dollar in today’s parking.

The problem of cars being parked in the wrong place is as old as cars themselves. The parking clamp, or Denver Boot, was another American invention. Strangely enough, it was invented by Frank Marugg, a violinist who performed at the Denver Sympathy Orchestra. Exactly what a violinist knows about keeping vehicles secure remains a mystery. The first Boots were made of steel but were later changed to aluminum. There are now various versions of clamps across the world.

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Valet parking is hardly new, but the idea that your car can park itself is gaining traction. Despite the idea that self-driving seems in its infancy a huge amount of money has been invested in self-parking (AKA autonomous parking). Cars parking themselves will somehow mix with cars being parked by humans. Predictably, regardless of how successful self-parking cars are unto themselves, the interaction between them and traditional, driver parked cars could cause issues.

Parking is tricky for some folks. Others hate driving past their destination to an unsavory alley with a faint urine smell, only to walk several blocks in the rain back to your destination. Perhaps the real reason why parking is hated so much is that people own cars to see wide open spaces and beautiful scenery. The parking garage is loathed by most but is a necessary evil if you want to explore a town or a city. So it looks like we’re stuck with it.

 

The Weird World of Kit Cars

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The idea of assembling an object sent over in the post might work with something like a closet organizer or a dresser but it’s a bit different with a car. For a start, there are more parts!

The first question you might ask is, why build a car? Why not just buy one from a showroom?

Well, there are a number of reasons you might build a car; one is if the car is used in a competitive activity such as hill climbing or road racing. Shows like Junkyard Challenge show how you mix and match different cars to make them better suited for specific occupations. Or you just might want a unique kind of car that different from anything else on the road.

Technically custom-built cars, those built for racing or climbing mountains, are not the same thing as a kit car per se. A kit car is a definite commercial item; it just comes in a form different from other cars.

Then What is a Kit Car?

With a kit car, you will find the more important components such as the engine and the transmission system come from donor vehicles which of course you need to buy elsewhere. So, far from keeping costs down, you might be creating expense. It is hardly the cheapest option and it can become an expensive hobby.

How much of a car is included in a kit car? Surprisingly it might be none at all; you might just have bought a list of instructions. Alternatively, you might obtain every single component a car might need; all you have to do is fit them together. Sound simple?

History of Kits?

There is a long history of kit cars, going back to 1896. Before Ford’s assembly line, car makers experimented with several ways to make them affordable. The opportunity to own one seemed to interest the magazine called The English Mechanic which showed how to build a car of your own. The first US kit car went by the macho name of “Lad’s Car”, costing about $160 in 1926, which translates as $2,200 today. It did take a bit of time to get going, not quite reaching its stride until the 1950s. Since so much went wrong with the cars of the day, people preferred to own the car showroom models.

What About Cost?

One technological advance that made the kit car more viable was the introduction of fiberglass into automaking. This brought the prices of the cars right down because the parts were cheaper to manufacture and lighter, and therefore cheaper, to ship.

Kit cars do offer potential cost savings of prebuilt models. If you are willing to accept a car that looks like a fancy custom vehicle but isn’t actually that vehicle with it’s brand name price, you could get most of the experience of owning such a car. For example, some cars are rare and collectible. Why pay collector rates when you just want to drive around is something cool. Taxes are another potential savings. If you pay sales tax on a junk car with good bones and then use a kit to cherry it out, you aren’t paying sales tax on the cost of all your labor.

The most famous kit car…

The most famous kit car is probably the Lotus but the AC Cobra is still being made. Many current models are replicas of older models – it seems that the designs of the cars haven’t changed for decades.

Possibly there could be a market for a new style of kit car, one that takes on the latest ideas of what cars are. It seems that we need to get over the idea that home assembly is too difficult for the novice, experimenting with new ideas and forms might be what it’s all about.

 

4 Checkpoints When Buying a Classic Car

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Classic car restoration can be a beast, even for DIY mechanics with plenty of experience. Depending on the needs of your classic ride, there’s bound to be at least a few areas where you’re not skilled—working out dents, re-upholstering or simply having connections to the right dealers who have original parts. For many people, owning a restored classic car is a major item on their bucket list. However, it’s easy to get stuck with a lemon.

It’s also easy to spend several thousand dollars on restoration, ultimately getting you a car that (albeit close to perfect) you’ve dumped way too much money into. When shopping for a classic car project, there are a few checkpoints to carefully consider. Simultaneously, you should also have a restoration shop in your corner who provides quality results that work with your budget.

  1. Rust=no go

jaguar-3366957_1920.jpgRust is fairly common, and when it’s minimal and just on the surface, you might be able to power wash it off. However, if the chassis has been destroyed or if you’ll need to totally replace steel panels, it’s not worth it. It’s not unusual to strip the chassis, sandblast it, remove sections and weld brand new pieces together. This isn’t just expensive, but ultimately means it’s not an original car. Only the lucky few can find replacement panels, but most need to create makeshift panels themselves. Rust buckets should be reserved for only the very skilled (or the very wealthy).

  1. Focus on value

auto-3351802_1920There are tons of old cars out there, but age alone doesn’t make a car a classic. While there will always be niche markets for pretty much every car, you deserve one that retains its value. Never let impulses control your purchase, and spend some time researching the most reliable classic cars that won’t lose their value. Bonus points if you snag a car that appreciates—and remember that upfront costs are only a small portion of what you’ll be spending.

  1. Check for replacement parts

auto-3352982_1920Assuming the worst case scenario happens and you have to replace a lot of parts, how easy are they to find? How affordable are they? Purchasing a really rare car is a thrill, but if they don’t make it anymore (or the manufacturer no longer exists), it’s going to be tough to find aftermarket parts. Pretend like you’re searching for parts well before making the purchase, and experience first-hand what might be in store.

  1. Power up

abandoned-3401168_1920At the very least, you need a car that easily starts and runs. If it overheats during the test drive, is cranky to start or the current owner promises “all it needs is a new battery,” be wary. If the battery story is true, most owners would spring for that cheap part in order to sell their car. A more likely scenario is a seized or otherwise destroyed engine that needs replacing.

Ideally, you have an expert on hand who can run diagnostics on the car before you make an offer. If the seller is on the up and up, they’ll be happy to let a pro take a look. If they resist, they’re probably hiding something and you’re better off continuing your hunt elsewhere.