Can You Afford To Own A Chevrolet?

Or put another way – If they try to sell you a Plymouth can you Dodge the question?

No good Nash-ing your teeth over it either…

How odd that as we pull away from the curb into the twenty-first century in Australia, we should do so in the Toyota, Subaru, Daihatsu, Nissan, Suzuki, Honda, Mitsubishi, and Fuso vehicles. Or, if we have been successfully greedy, in Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Lancia cars.

We should be hard pressed to do the same in a Humber, Standard, Triumph, Rover, Hillman, Austin, or Vauxhall.

And yet today I will go to a car show that glories in Ford, Chevy, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Willys, Cadillac, Mercury, and Chrysler. And they will be spectacular and bright…or rotten and rusty…but will reflect the best of a car builder’s skill. Very few of them will be oriental or continental. What do the hot rodders and custom car builders know that the rest of us have forgotten?

Can we be reminded by an industry that needs to stop repeating what Europe and Asia say? Can we still build what we need, for ourselves, where we live? I hope so.

 

Dashboard

Every time I open the WordPress site I get a dashboard that lets me control the weblog. Every time I get into my little Suzuki I sit behind a dashboard that lets me control the car. It is a comfortable place to be in both cases and I can see the wisdom in naming the set of electronic quizzes and sliders that we operate for sites and computers the same as the automobile – we are nearly all familiar with one somehow.

Well, leave the weblog and the computer aside and follow along to a couple of car shows as I look at the dashboards. I find them a fascinating insight into the minds of both the designers and of the society they serve.

DSCF0114The first dashboards literally dashed the mud aside as buggies and wagons followed horses. I’ll bet that the horses were not fooled – they could think of ways of spattering the people behind them anyway. But the dashboard of the wagon might only need to have a footrest, and no other controls. This leaked onto the first horseless carriages – they have few things happening in front there either, though they start to add pedals and switches to deal with braking and transmissions. Sometimes with the acceleration of the engine, though in many of the old cars this was still happening around the steering wheel.

Sometimes pipes and gauges were added to cope with fuels, or water, or oil. There might even be electrical gauges if the driver needed to know what was going to fail next…

Gradually the gauges took on more significance and prominence. People might not have needed to know how fast they were going early on because they were not going fast at all. When they sped up, someone wanted them to slow down, and quantified that – speed limits were evolved and drivers needed to know how quickly the vehicle was moving. The speedometer appeared. Followed by the speed trap and the fine.

Technical brother to the speedometer was the tachometer – how many revolutions per minute the engine was making. The driver could use the information to decide when to shift gears, if the screaming of the transmission or the passengers did not supply the signal. Old timers probably paid more attention to this one and regulated themselves in their district on hills and turns they knew by watching their revs.

People needed to know how much petrol or other fuel was in the tank and for a long time the only way they could determine this was a dipstick in the tank. That or a glass gauge with a tube in it somewhere near the tank. Or sticking their tongue in the tank. It was a long time before a reliable petrol gauge appeared on the dashboard…and I am waiting any week for one to show on mine…A guess is as good as a mile in many cases and that is how far you’ll be walking when you ignore the little floppy needle.

Oil? All engines and many navies needed it, but the original measure was a dipstick on the crankcase for when you had it and a grinding clank when you didn’t. The idea of putting an oil gauge on the dash to worry the driver came along pretty quickly but it was generally done by means of a tube from where the oil pressure was to the gauge in the dash where the needle swung over. The inevitable vibration and fatigue fracture would send the hot oil somewhere unpleasant. It was quite a while before they thought of a sensor and electrical reporter for this.

Electricity, coming or going, is invisible. You only ever hear it when you are holding a spark plug lead and the block and some comedian cranks the engine over. Then it makes a noise like bad words. For some time the designers did not really know what to measure as far as electricity went and there were few sensible gauges. Eventually they settled on a little bobbing needle that went one way when you were using it up and the other way when you were making more. You could even measure the battery to see how much electricity was in there but it was always a blasted lie.

Most other measurements and reports were only commentary. Various makers decide to tell you or not, depending upon the market and whether they thought you wanted to know or would understand the message.

Will post later…must dash…

 

 

Bollards To You!

_dsf0313The heading photo is from a few years ago – the back end of my pride-and-joy little car after I reversed it into a concrete bollard at a car park. The post was low enough not to be seen as one pulled out of the parking bays but tall enough to strike both bumper and rear hatch.

The subsequent repair work was costly enough to require me to use my insurance policy but was done to a good standard and the car is as useful now as before. While I considered myself plagued with bad luck then I recently saw something that changed my mind. A friend did the same thing to his car and has effectively written it off.

This may seem a little severe with bumper and boot lid damage but he unfortunately has an older car that is constructed on some sort of unibody principle. The entire rear end up to the window line is all one giant panel, and if you break it the price of replacing it  – for cars that are well out of date – is prohibitive. He will end up with a secondhand car of the same era if he is lucky but it is likely to have as many flaws as the one he owns.

Is this gong to be the way of the future? What happened to the 70’s plans to make cars with replaceable panels that would cut down on repair costs? What happened to actual panel beaters actually beating panels? Have we regressed?

The idea of a hot rod sourced from someone who has already built it to a legal standard is getting more and more attractive. Blow getting a big-engine one – a roadster with a tiny Japanese 4-cylinder engine will be fine – as long as the body has separate panels and there are real live steel bumpers out the front and back on big stalks.

Or better still –  an old pickup with a steel rear platform.

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Did You Hear Something, Watson?

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That faint sound of a destroyer siren at 10 paces?

I think it’s the car insurance company again. This time it is another pleasant young man from Manila…taking up the slack where the last pleasant young man left off. He has apparently been in contact with PYM1 and is going to contact his manager to see if he can secure an insurance quote for me that is as low as the insurance quote that his firm already sent to me in the post…

Say what?

Yes. Indeed. Over the weekend the insurance quote has climbed from $ 606.43 to $ 739.00 – but he will do his utmost to try to persuade the manager to only take $ 606.43.

We’re talking about a 5-year old Suzuki hatchback here – my wife’s one-month-old car was also insured with the same firm for $ 606.18. In one case an old car that rates at $ 9500 and in the other a new car at $ 30,000… Same address, same drivers…but the same premium. Say what?

I do wish they would turn off that diving klaxon so that I could think…

A round of the local internet has turned up insurance with the same specs for the old car for from $ 440 to $ 534. Major player firms that pay up on claims properly. Firms with which I already deal in other insurance matters.

I am grateful to PYM1 and PYM2 – they have provided me with a timely reminder to be vigilant and prudent in my financial dealings, and as there is a month to go before I need the new cover, I should be able to make a sensible decision.

My goodness those fire alarm bells are noisy. And where did all the ” Achtung: Minen ” signs come from? Is there a message here?

The Fight Attendant Strolls Down The Aisle…

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Casually buckling on a parachute…

Have just received business proposal from a firm… with a wildly inflated price. Compared similar business proposal from other firms…half that price from them. Decided to ring first business to see what gives.

Got pleasant person in what sounded like a busy office. Exchanged identifying information but found that further info was sought. Declined to supply such pestiferousness as a mobile number…they can talk to me on a land line, as they were doing just then. Asked abut the high quote.

Pleasant person had to cut away to “talk to supervisor” and had difficulty finding information ” because we have changed systems “. I’ll bet they have indeed…

We’ll see if they requote with a normal figure. Then we’ll consider whether the business has been hijacked or vanished inside a pillow fort…

Fortunately there are other, local, businesses that can take up the reins.

The Board Of Sad

DSCF0448BI put my car in for service at the agency that sold it to me – they continue a warranty for another 5 years on the cigar cutter and the drink holder that way. I looked at the dull offerings in the lot – grey, black, white, and silver. Ick.

There was a board set up in the showroom with the different models the company sells and a small plastic representation of each colour. They make about 5 models, and the only one that had a decent variety of hues was the smallest – the Alto K-car made in India. It even had a bright pink and a bright blue version, which is not surprising for India. Good on them.

All the other ranges, including the model I drive are down to the Sad Four plus the occasional red or blue. The yellow model is a sports version and they sock you an extra $ 5000 for it – and it garners higher insurance and registration fees.

I am hoping that the pendulum swings, the world turns, that the chickens come home to roost, and the colour-blind executives of Suzuki are all replaced with happier people in the next 5 years. I am due to change my car then and I’d like one that looks pretty. I’ll take pink if purple or orange is not available.

Best bets for colourful cars right now? Tiny Mazdas and hot rods.

Sunday Driver

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I am the worst kind of Sunday Driver. 68 years old, White. Male. Wear a hat in the car. Drive a Suzuki Swift. Drive at or under the speed limit. In the left hand lane.

By doing this I piss off everybody:

A. The police, who do not make any money from me on the Multinova speed cameras set up around the town. ( Passed one in a 60 kph zone today doing 58 kph. Deprived the state government of $ 150. Suffer, you bastards.)

B. The young who are in a terrible hurry to get somewhere. If the somewhere is hell, which many of them are headed for, they need not be concerned. Whenever they arrive, it will be open and they’ll get in.

C. The Subcontinental Rich. Don’t ask me why, but I get rude gestures and shouted imprecations in Hindi from passing Mercedes Benz sedans. I do not wear political banners on my bumper bars and I never make eye contact or point revolvers at them. I think they just like to score aggression points when they think they can do it safely*.

D. Women of a certain age. Who see a man in a hat in a car and recognise that he is likely to be timid or careful on the road. Thus they fell they can be nasty and get away with it. Like finding an antisocial treasure chest.

E. The Powerful and Grim. The sight of a grasshopper green Suzuki Swift acts upon the brains of people who drive large powerful grey or black cars like a red rag is said to act on a bull. It enrages them. They loom, swerve, flash, and otherwise behave badly. I can only assume that colour distresses them. I cannot imagine what they do in the clothing store when the season changes – perhaps they pull all the sweaters off the racks and jump on them.

I do not own a dash cam for the car, and probably will never get one – because I do not care to review the foolish behaviour of others. But I do carry a Fuji X camera with me on a lot of journeys – and I get to record what happens. Thus the stoplight pest window scratcher and the crass licence plate are captured for posterity. And it posterity is not careful, it will have to see them forever…

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  • Actually, I would never point a pistol at a sepoy. Not only would it be illegal under Western Australian firearms laws, it would be terribly inaccurate and short-ranged. A .577 three-band Enfield percussion rifled musket, on the other hand, can effectively deal with them out to 1200 yds. And I am very good with a rifled musket…