The CB Slang in the Convoy Song

For those not familiar with Citizen’s Band and its slang, the 1975 song Convoy must seem like a mass of jargon and confusion. Surprisingly, the song by C. W. McCall was a hit not only on the country & western charts, but also a crossover hit on the pop charts.

Before we get to deciphering the song, here’s a brief history of the CB Radio. It is described on Wikipedia as both as “professional mobile radio” and a “land mobile radio system” involving communication over a short wave. In many countries it doesn’t involve a license.

The Federal Communications Commission controls and allocates certain bandwidths for certain uses. This prevents radio stations from broadcasting on the headsets of commercial airline pilots and other potentially nasty confusions. In 1945 the FCC allotted a special band (or section of frequencies) for citizens to have personal communications.

In the days before cell phones this became a way for people to communicate with each other when no land line was available. This brought a lot of efficiency to things like fire lookout stations. But in at the hight of their popularity, in the 1970s, they were the bailiwick of professional drivers. CBs were especially useful to long haul truck drivers who were likely to encounter bad weather conditions or surprise road closures.

These long-haul drivers also began warning each other of speed traps. Which made them a valuable source of information to other drivers crossing remote areas, who wanted to avoid being pulled over for speeding.

CB Slang

Many bandwidths of radio broadcast picked up specific nomenclature specific to their needs. HAM radio operators, who use a similar device and operate in a similar manor, actually need to get a licence to broadcast. Part of the licence requires them to learn Morse Code though their bandwidth is generally spoken word.

CB slang developed at an accelerated pace compared to the regular evolution such devices, due in part to desire to inform on police without being blatantly obvious.

What is a Convoy?

The song concerns some kind of driver rebellion, a convoy, which travels from the West coast to the East coast without a break. Biologists refer to this behaviour as swarming, or schooling. It happens in bird or fish that will react to a predator by acting in a uniform pattern, which tricks the predator into treating the group as a whole instead of as a bunch of individuals.

What is one police car supposed to do when 15 semis barrel past going 10 miles an hour over the speed limit? At best they ticket one of them and let the rest go. There is mention in the song of a strong police presence and having to speed past a toll booth.

One reason a convoy might work is that most states only put so many highway patrol on a given freeway, which means a group of truckers could drag a train of patrol cars to the edge of their jurisdiction where they must quit the chase. Provided they obscured their identifying numbers like registration or licence plates.

Eventually police began using roadblocks and tire puncture devises, and the federal highway commission began to require upgraded identification.

Slang in the Song “Convoy.”

Because it takes in so much of America the song wedges in as many nicknames for US cities as decency allows!

Here is a glossary:

10-4: Affirmative.

10-9: Repeat.

(10 codes were a staple on CB. Currently 10-1 Unreadable to 10-33 Help Officer; but many codes have been retired).

19: The traditional channel for CB, pronounced “1-9”.

20: Location.

Bear: The police. “Heading for bear” here means heading for an area which has a police presence, which since they were speeding probably meant trouble.

Bridge: The bridge referred in the song is the Walt Whitman Bridge across the Delaware. They enter New Jersey but they do not pay the toll.

Catch you on the flip-flop: Catch you next time, whenever that might be.

Chartreuse microbus: A VW microbus, also known as a caravan.

Chi-Town: Chicago.

Chicken Coups: Truck weigh stations. These are checkpoints a driver must legally stop at.

Clover leaf: An interchange of four roads making a four leaf clover pattern.

Convoy: Three of more truck drivers going to the same place when they exceed the speed limit.

Flagtown: Flagstaff, Arizona.

Front door: The head of the convoy. They were the one charged to look for “bears” or police cars.

Kenworth: A Class 8 truck made in Seattle. The one referenced in the song was “pulling logs” or transporting logs.

Pete: Peterbilt, a truck manufacturer.

Pig Pen: The driver of a pig truck, not the most popular of people!

Put the hammer down: Put the pedal the floor, get moving!

Reefer: A refrigeration truck used to haul food.

Rubber Duck: The leader in a convoy.

Shakey Town: Los Angeles, so-called because of the earthquakes.

Sod buster: A tractor, because it digs up sods or patches of grass.

Suicide jockey: A driver of hazardous material, usually explosives.

Swindle cheats: The log book used to log a truck’s progress. They were not seen as reliable hence “swindle cheats”.

Nowadays:

The addition of electronic log books and GPS has eliminated any thought of getting away with most of the traffic offences a convoy was intended to enable, however it’s the cell phone that has done the most to kill CB slang. For better or worse, all things come to an end.

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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.

Car Business Start-ups

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When you consider a business start-up these days, you probably think of something like a restaurant or a clothes shop. No one, but no one, is going to think about manufacturing cars. Much like an old fashioned car itself, an auto manufacturer will likely splutter along and or come to a grinding halt.

factory-35108_1280As much as it might feel like most modern auto-makers have simply always existed, the truth is they started the same way you or I would try our hand at being a restaurateur. Imagine yourself in the olden days making a go of it at making cars. It might help to have a history of a few car businesses beginnings.

Henry Royce of Rolls Royce fame started an electrical and mechanical business in 1884. He only started manufacturing and selling cars twenty years later. Starting up in another type of machine shop and then specializing in the newest product is a smart move, and you may notice it as a theme in this post.

Daimler trained as a draughtsman before becoming a workshop inspector for the Mercedes Benz company. It’s a smart idea to apprentice before buying your own company.

Renault originally consisted of Louis, Marcel and Ferdinard Renault. The skills of working in their textile business assisted them in creating a car company, though the connection is not immediately apparent. At least get some skills in business before starting your car company.factory-35104_1280

Nissan began as a truck making company for the military. Only when the idea of the personal car ownership became possible did the founder Masujiro Hashimoto move into automobile manufacturer. It’s the old entrepreneur’s mantra of seeing a need. When you can get a fat military contract do it.

Another Japanese company, Toyota has its origins as a creator of looms, or cloth weaving devices in 1924. It was the capital gained from this that they invested in a car factory.

Porsche has some similarities with Nissan in that it started with military vehicles, though Ferdinard Porsche the founder had experience in building coaches. After that he designed cars for Daimler before coming up with the automobile which is synonymous with him.

BMW originally made airplanes before moving into – no, not cars – motorcycle engines, railway brakes and various pieces of home equipment. BMW didn’t found an automobile empire so much as buy one, purchasing Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach in 1928.

Soichora Honda’s experience before running a factory was a mechanic at a garage for racing cars. Honda’s responsibility was to finely tune the cars to make them fit for the race.

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The Eastern European business Skoda had simple origins, as a bicycle factory which in turn bought a motorcycle factory before developing cars for the Czech patron. Despite a few misstarts as a business, such as not knowing whether to concentrate on front or rear engine vehicles they are now a classic name all over Europe and beyond.

Range Rover also started as a bicycle concern, but they also manufactured tricycles. They were based in Coventry in England. John Kemp Stanley inherited a sewing machine factory. The logic for turning it into a bike factory must be there, but you might need to study how these factories work to figure it out. Again they went into motorcycles before turning to automobiles. Almost an echo of other car factory stories.

The moral of this seems to be if you want to be able to run a car factory, try running some other form of factory first. Otherwise try to work with a different type of car firm or with military vehicles of some sort.

It is probably one of the most highly competitive industries in the world and makes billions every year. Good luck.

 

The Powerhouse of Fiat Chrysler

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(Editors Note: This post was started to be in the series of the American Story of the Car alongside Dodge and Ford, but although all these companies have become multinational, that seems to be the Chrysler model of business. As you’ll soon see, the make some good cars and have had success, but they’re harder to classify as an American car Company.)

Fiat Chrysler might be reminiscent of the Chrysler building in New York – huge, imposing and with a certain amount of style.  The cynic might also suggest that the Chrysler building has less wholesome things in common with the cars, such as being overpriced (in common with the rest of New York?) and a product of another era. But, as said above, this is a cynic’s view.

road-826965_1920.jpgThere a number of quite individualistic vehicles which come under the Fiat Chrysler brand, so how did it get to where it is?

The Fiat part of the company could be described as the oldest. The Fiat 4 HP sounds like it might be a twentieth century vehicle, maybe a SUV? But no, it was created in 1899 and looked more like a baby buggy than a modern Fiat car. A more noticeable thing is that it had no reverse gear, so parking would have been troublesome.

Standing for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Factory of Cars, Turin) Fiat soon became the biggest automobile manufacturer in Europe. In 1970 they were employing 100,000 people. As well as cars they have also built such items as railway carriages, farm tractors and planes. Outside Italy, the biggest base for Fiat is Brazil where it is described as the market leader in manufacture.

The Chrysler part took over from the Maxwell Company in 1925 when it was founded by Walter Chrysler. He spent his defining years working as a railway mechanic before going into the motor trade (his father was also a locomotive engineer). The company in turn took over such brand vehicles as Dodge, Jeep and Ram as well as Fargo Trucks. In the 1960s the brand was taking over the Spanish, French and British car companies.fiat-116497_1920.jpg

The takeover of Mitsubishi occurred in 1970s and in the late 1998 the company merged with Daimler-Benz . Both Daimler and Benz have a long history, Benz goes back to 1886 (before teaming up with the “more famous” Mercedes) while Daimler was spending that period of history converting stagecoaches with Wilhelm Maybach.

Although it was now a member of the Big Three companies, it didn’t stop Chrysler suffering losses in the crisis between 2008 and 2010 and had to be bailed out. This could be described as controversial; not all governments would top up their factories, especially for a non-nationalized company. A marketing slogan at the time was “Let’s Refuel America” but it seemed they were in need of a vital top up themselves…

The companies of Fiat and Chrysler were merged in May 2014. There is still a huge variety in vehicles under the label – foreign cars such as the Maserati and Lancia, as well as more American cars such as the Jeep or the Ram van. What they lose in a complete brand image, they make up for being all-encompassing.

What seems certain is that Fiat-Chrysler will continue to merge with and take over new car brands. It’s all about survival. And, in essence, finding what sort of car the American public wishes to own.

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Virtual Roads – Part Two

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I was referring to Sat Navs in the previous blog, but virtual roads come to their own in video games and simulations. Firstly, we need to mention racing games.

video-games-1557358_1920Gran Trak 10 in 1974 was confusingly the first arcade game to simulate car racing (there seems to be no Gran Trak 9, 8 and so on). It boasted very low-resolution, black and white graphics. In a mere two years violence became linked to race cars with the game, Death Race in 1976. Evidently the people at Exidy who made the game felt they were giving the public what they wanted and there was a notable jump in sales for the arcade machines.

These games didn’t create an actual world for a player to explore like games do now, they just scrolled in one direction. The first game that could be said to do this was Atari’s Super Bug released in 1976. The game name, “The Driver” might remind today’s players of Guitar Hero, in that the game required you to match the steering wheel and brake actions with the movements on screen. So it’s part, Simon Says and part driving simulator or driving aid?toyota-967011_1280

The first to include a real circuit of track was 1982’s Pole Position created by Atari in the US and Namco elsewhere. The track it used was Fuji Speedway in Japan.

vr-3460451_1920Racing games seemed to be slow lane for about a decade until Super Mario Kart in 1992. Games had now acquired 3D imagery but had probably lost a sense of reality. The big thing about Super Mario Kart that it created a genre of fun character-based race games or “Kart games.”

Vehicle combat games would begin in 1983 with the Spy Hunter series and would spawn some releases as Knight Rider and Starsky and Hutch. In them it was not enough to race, you had to cause significant damage to your opponent.

The Surprising Story of Realistic Traffic

We take for granted that we a driving game will include realistic simulation of how the traffic will act at a certain point or under certain conditions, but there is an interesting origin story of how that came to be.

girl-3959203_1920.jpgIt goes back even before video games to 1946 where the Monte Carlo method which relies on random sampling to create likelihood from which an algorithm can be built up. The Goal is to aid logistics and road planning to avoid bottlenecks. Municipalities wanted to know how fast emergency services could get to certain points, and so on. It was natural for video game developers to digitalize these algorithms so that the cars on a road or track, to have cars around the POV vehicle behave in a realistic manner in response to obstacles and road conditions.

These algorithms are still used by cities and states in 2019. Those planning a road will create computer simulations to predict traffic on roadways, bridges, tunnels, etc. and it then check them in dry, wet or even icy conditions. Perhaps these models will eventually create a map that can tell you the best time of day to make a trip. Who knows?

 

 

Virtual Roads – Part One

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Where do we start with virtual roads? Well to define what we mean by the term virtual road, it’s easier to think of as a map. It could be an existing road, or it could be a route one takes to get someplace—like directions. To understand why the fancy term, virtual road, we need to consider the history of roads.

Surprising Origin of Routes & Roads

In England a traveller might observe that some roads meander about from town to city and other roads go directly from place to place without regard to any obstacle. To the citizen of the UK these are known as Saxon roads and Roman roads, because modern roads were either built on top of one or the other.

holidays-1283014_1920Saxons built their roads along the path of least resistance, which generally means a bridge ends up at the best historical place to ford across the river long before the bridge existed. It also means that a lot of the roads in England were built where a cow pushed aside the brush making it easier for humans to pass as well.

Roman roads, on the other hand, are professionally surveyed. They were an important part of the empire, not only for efficient commerce, but because the faster you could move an army the better control you could maintain. So, when Romans encountered stream, they bridged it, when they encountered a mountain, they tunnelled though it. Roman roads are straight, city to city, and they withstand the test of time.

But before anyone bothered to build a road, prehistoric man had rough directions from one civilized spot to another—most of which were built along water sources. Therefore, the earliest formal routes to get places start in about 1160 BC where the trails of seasonal rivers, also used as roads were placed on a map. The oldest road map used in a commuting sense goes back to 235BC. It shows a number of towns along the Black Sea.

Maps, Past & Future

There are other names worth mentioning in the history of road mapping such as McNally’s Road Map of New York (1904) and Michelin (their first road map was in 1910) but instead I want to concentrate on using tech to imitate the road, rather than just giving a plan of the road.

android-1869510_1920.jpgA moving map display was first introduced in the 1950s using paper chart. The only problem is that they could only navigate one specific road, so if you had to travel somewhere obscure you were out of luck. Using a cell phone as a guide to where you are has some similarities to using a moving map display, except of course you are not confined to one road. With larger devices, such as the iPad, there’s room to change the display and allow for something resembling a Sat-Nav when using Google Maps.

Ah, Google Maps, certainly one of the most used systems to work out where you are. It began in 2004 as a downloadable desktop program by Where 2 Technologies. It began by two brothers, Lars and Jed Rasmussen, and quickly added some of the processes of Keyhole, a program acquired at a similar time. Google Maps as we recognize it today began in February 2005 programmed using Javascript and XML. In 2012 Google announced it had 7,100 employees and freelancers which worked in the mapping process and in 2017 it had a billion users worldwide.

When Google Maps was created though Sat Navs had been going for a least twenty years. A Honda built with the “Electro Gyro-Cator” in 1981. Instead of using satellites it used “inertial” navigation systems, meaning that the information couldn’t be updated, Read Only Memory in other words. Cassettes allowing information to be changed would come along in 1983.

Since computer tapes retailed at $20 (the equivalent of $60 today) it is unlikely that many people paid to get their navigation device updated.

The first system which relied on a satellite came along in 1990 and wouldn’t gain a voice until two years later. It relies on a vector map which each house or street encoded as its geographical co-ordinates. The Navigation Data Standard ensures that all SatNavs use the same system and will be updated as and when needed. There are many ways to store the road database, not just ROM but also a flash memory, a hard disk or a CD.

There are other things that can be done with a virtual road. This is the subject of the next article.

 

 

Cheesy Car Ads

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What makes 50s car ads cheesy? It could be that look to a lifestyle we no longer recognize such as men in hats and women in headscarves, or it could be the convoluted way they say things. Some examples can be seen below.

What about “super-sonic sleekness exciting the most spirited imagination”? (The Oldsmobile’s Golden Rocket) or even “the way it looks, handles and makes you feel” (Mustang). Indeed no one seems to advertise a car nowadays on how the car handles, possibly because it is a subjective thing. But it certainly gave the 50’s driver a good reason to part with their dollars.

When in doubt maybe you might describe your car as the “greatest ever” as a ’73 version of the Volvo decided to do. (There’s some strange copy in their advert “the more comfier you are (sic), the safer you and your family are”). It might just be wishful thinking?

car-hop-4398145_1920Some pieces of copy might need you to become more interested in cars than you really are. “The best thing to happen to the 6 cylinder engine” – Chrysler Dodge. Why does it need to be a 6 cylinder engine? Would it be not so good if it was 7 cylinders? The 6 cylinder is apparently set at 30 degrees to produce a “bigger manifold system”. We’re not sure on the science, or really what they are going on about. To save a trip to the dictionary, the word manifold means “many and various” so it has the same meaning as system really.

It seems bizarre that advertisers would ever show cross-sections of cars to the public just to make them sell, but you need to remember that this might just possibly be the only car the driver would buy in their lifetime and it helped them to know it was reliable, even if they didn’t understand all the jargon involved. It was a case of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” – if a picture of a car’s inside worked before it must surely work again?

You’d worry nowadays if an engine said it had “hurricane power” but that seemed to be all right for the Willys-Overland Jeepster. For those who have not heard of the vehicle a Jeepster only was manufactured for two years as was designed as a cross between a convertible and a SUV. Put like that, it’s no wonder they didn’t catch on.

7g1zht0uxthxtiYou’ve got to love it when advertisers decide to highlight the most mundane items –for instance a Foam-Rubber Seat in a Mercury with the name “Lounge-Rest.” (Leather had yet to become the most obvious material for car seats). Strangely the carburettor has been nicknamed “Econ-O-Miser” because it doesn’t use that much gas, which seemed a common theme in writing copy for these types of advertisement.

A big thing seemed to be the way cars could “go for miles” on just thimblefuls of gas – this was before things like the Lanham Act, so it was much easier to lie at that time. Not that today’s advertisers tell the whole truth.

 

Cars in Time

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If you’re trying to be accurate or simplify tracking when things happen in relationship to each other one of the best techniques is to build a timeline. For example Henry Ford was born in 1863, so they would stick in other events that happened in the 19th Century possibly and continue into the 20th and 21st Centuries.

The problem is that you only can see which events happened when. If the goal is to give a clear context then you need an element of scale. In our Henry Ford example, it would be good practice to work out an event we can relate to that establishes when 1863 actually occurred. For instance, WWII’s Pearl Harbor in 1941 was halfway between when Henry Ford was born and 2019 – it gives a better idea to how long ago 1863 was.

A generation is a cohort of people who were born roughly the same time and whose upbringing was shaped by large events and the resulting cultural responses to them. Each generation lasts about 30 years. So another way to think of a timeline is by the number of generations that have passed between events.

Cars needed to have red flags in front of them in 1896 which was four generations ago (doesn’t seem as long as near as that!) or halfway between Sputnik falling to Earth and The Bridge Over The River Kwai winning an Oscar in 1958 and now.

The first car which didn’t need a crank to start was patented in the US in 1903 which was slightly less than four generations ago or halfway between President John F Kennedy being sworn in, the release of 101 Dalmatians in cinemas and The Bay of Pigs in Cuba in 1961 and 2019.

The introduction of the assembly line began the Ford Motor Company in 1913. This is about 3 and a half generations ago, or half way between the Vietnam protests, and the debut of Batman and the release of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine in 1966 and 2019.

The first automatic transmission of gears was in 1939 by General Motors. This is just over 2 and a half generations ago, or half way between Pink Floyd’s The Wall concert, the film releases of Alien and Life of Brian in 1979 and 2019.

Electric fuel injection began in 1966 (note that the half way points for Henry Ford being born, cars needing to have red flags in front of them and a car which didn’t need a crank being patented has already happened at this point, and this is the half-way point for the assembly line). This is slightly more than 1 and a half generations ago or half-way between Bill Clinton being made president, the release of Jurassic Park and the first launch of Endeavour in 1993 and 2019.

The first mass produced Hybrid car, the Toyota Prius was launched in 1997 (note that all the half-way points above have now happened.). This is slightly less than one generation ago or half-way between Barrack Obama becoming president and the premier of Breaking Bad in 2008 and 2019.

You should now have a clearer idea of when events happened! Or quite possibly you are even more confused. It might be worth reading the article again, just to see if it makes any more sense the second time! Just a thought. Or Check out this timeline online.

 

The Down & Dirty on Car Washes

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The first semi-automatic car wash which used a series of pulleys was introduced in Detroit in 1914. It did require manual brushing of the vehicle though.

car-wash-1408492_1920.jpgThe first big car washing franchise was Dan Hanna’s Rub-a-Dub. Starting in Oregon, Hanna Enterprises (as it became known) in 1955 it soon had 31 car washes all other America. In the 1960s the idea of soft friction washing, roller on demand conveyor belt (also known as a tunnel) and wrap around brush was introduced. It was not until the 1970s that you they introduced the automatic wheel cleaner and polish ‘n’ wax. By 1988, Hanna Enterprises grew to 80,000 car washes in 56 countries, the second biggest franchiser of the time, after McDonald’s of course. It now trades as Colman Hanna Carwash Systems and still owns a number of patents and trademarks linked to the car wash. So if you’ve used a car wash, you’ve probably used a system created by Hanna Enterprises.

Mobile car washes are a more recent invention using plastic water tanks and pressure washers. A number of car users prefer this type of car wash to the automatic type as they believe it damages the paintwork, etc. Just because they don’t use machines doesn’t mean that this type of service can’t deal with a huge number of customers, some of them even operate a fleet cleaning service.

With an average price per basic wash of $15 it’s likely that most of the profit comes from upgraded services. 20% of car businesses charge more than $18 per customer, which doesn’t sound too unreasonable though it is not clear what the maximum amount is. If a car wash is getting enough passing trade it should be receiving at least $1,500 per month.

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As with anyone starting a business you need traffic, (pun intended) which you might derive from social media. However, conventional wisdom is to generate your leads offline as well. This starts with the golden trifecta of business—location, location, location! Find somewhere which is easy to get to, especially if it is near a supermarket or freeway. There also needs enough room for you to operate, there’s no point if you can only get two or three cars on site. As with any other business look to see what the competition are doing-can you undercut them? Or maybe you should look to offering a premium service instead? It sounds obvious but still many businesses go bust in the first six months.

Here is a glossary of terms:

A car wash service which wishes to clean the inside and the outside of a vehicle with at least one automatic system is technically known as a detail shop.

A full service is a garage that both repairs, clean cars, inspects the vehicle, etc.

Exterior only is a car wash that only cleans the outside, usually an automatic system one step at a time.

Self-service is similar but it isn’t done by a machine.

 

 

Standing Up in Cars

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If you’re riding in a car you’re probably sitting down. But if you have ridden in a bus a number of times it’s likely you’ve stood up. And if you drove a Segway or an e-scooter you definitely stood up to operate it, there’s no other way to make it work.

So why is there no standing up in cars? It’s such a simple idea, yet you’ve probably never thought about it before. Cars are full of people sitting down, that’s just how it is.

There is some logic in the sitting down car, evidently. Cars came from horse drawn carriages and when passengers rode in them, they sat. Having said that, one style of coach used as a taxi, called a hack, did require the coachman to stand while holding the reigns and looking over the roof of the passenger apartment, but most styles of coach did have a place for the driver to sit.

The Toyota FV2 is one vehicle which hoped to fix this discrepancy. It’s described as a Segway on steroids and surprisingly it’s supposed to have the power to read minds. It slightly resembles a land-yacht, except it works by motor, not sail.

The problem here is that was introduced in 2015 and many people still haven’t heard of it. The marketing theme is making cars “fun to drive” but seems more likely to make cars far too exhausting to drive. The inventors did say they were looking at tech that will be discovered in 5 to 10 years’ time, which is the way of concept cars, but it still seems the need for this type of vehicle has yet to arrive, and maybe will never fully arrive.

The other revolutionary principle of the Toyota FV2 is that it removes the driver from having to use a steering wheel, clutch or brake. Everything is done by body movements itself. But as said before, we don’t really like to drive this way, or so it seems.

Then there is the Honda Wander Stand, which resembles a saltshaker which you have to drive around. Was Hando just trying to reinvent the mobility scooter, no, they did that with the Honda Wander Walker already. Where the Wander walker would allow a person with limited mobility to navigate among pedestrians, the Wander Stand allows for safety among other cars…in theory.

The futuristic Sole is for short distance commuting. Its selling point is that driving in a car is sedentary; why not raise the passenger up so they travel more “normally?” It’s also ideal when there is a lack of parking space and areas for turning, though it does give off the appearance of being top-heavy.

Although there are some suggestions that using such vehicles solve congestion, the main effect would seem to be that no one goes out because they get exhausted standing up in a vehicle for long periods of time. It’s all right for short periods of time, spending hours there might prove trickily for the average driver. Imagine getting stuck in traffic in one of these.

If you have a back injury, then sitting for a long period might be an issue. If you have genuine interest in a vehicle that lets you stand up, you might investigate acquiring one of these concept vehicles. But be warned, concept cars serve as a platform to test out radical ideas. Most of the ideas don’t make it to market and rarely does the concept car get adopted as a whole. The difficulty with concepts is that they never seem to spread across the whole market.