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Episode 15 – Freebies

After a week’s worth of rain, a few crummy days, and a pair of frozen pizzas, we’re back at it this week. Eric and Daryl bring you another roundup of automotive news and views from flyover country. Here’s a few highlights, but you’ll want to download the full episode to get caught up.

Feedback

Robert got in touch with us after the last show where we were talking about used oil hassles, and he recommended Lenz Oil Service at 3001 S.W. Washington Street, Peoria IL, 61602. in Peoria. They have a pair of DIY oil drop-off tanks open 24 hours a day, and they also accept used transmission fluid, brake fluid, gasoline and antifreeze (there is a charge of $1.00 per gallon to take that, however.)

What a great tip, Robert! Thanks for listening.

Got a gripe or a helpful tip? We’ll gladly listen to either at info@throwinwrenches.com

Projects

Eric hit the Badlands for some off-road fun recently and offers an update on how things went. Nice weather means autocross season is near. Eric needs to get some race tires for his daughter’s Celica this weekend so she (and he) can toss it into some corners. He may even run into Dean sometime this season. Time will tell.

Daryl isn’t up to much. Maybe someday he’ll tackle his mess of a garage. Maybe not.

Headlines

Datsun Z Car
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

Nissan Z-car celebrates 50th birthday

Source: The Newswheel

Nissan’s original sportscar is now a half-century old, and the Japanese automaker celebrated the occasion by launching a special anniversary edition with a throwback color scheme that mimics the Brock Racing Enterprises race cars from back in the day. Nissan helped put the words “Japanese” and “performance” together for the first time. Their inline six provided plenty of torque and the chassis provided something American muscle cars of the era couldn’t: handling! Toyota’s 2000 GT debuted a few years prior in 1967, but were technically built under contract by Yamaha and only 351 were built in a three-year run. Nissan’s 370Z is still a performance bargain with over 300 horsepower and a list price of just over 30K.

Jalopnik Keeps Cramming Autonomous Cars up our Tailpipes

Source: Jalopnik

A recent Jalopnik article (Why are we reading Jalopnik?) basically points out the aviation-inspired terms that car companies are using to describe semi-autonomous features, ie “auto pilot, pro pilot, super cruise”. The claim is that automation made aviation much safer in the long run, and the same could be said for cars and trucks once automakers standardize things. The trouble is during this semi-autonomous period (which will be here for awhile) people will be doofuses and do things like use the backup camera and stop looking over their shoulders and run into things. The ‘human factor’ is going to screw things up because we change our behavior… learn bad manners, make assumptions, and get little to no training on these features.

Thanks, humans!.

smart car
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Mercedes to end Smart sales in Canada, U.S.

Source: Autonews

Mercedes-Benz will discontinue sales of its full-electric Smart brand in the U.S. and Canada.

The luxury automaker blamed a “declining micro-car market” in the U.S. and Canada, combined with high homologation costs.

Canadian sales of Smart vehicles fell 6.3 percent to just 345 units in 2018. U.S. Smart sales in 2018 plunged 58 percent from a year earlier to 1,276 cars. Smart went full electric starting with the 2018 model year.

Rack ‘Em Up, Driverless Cars Surprisingly Will Be A Boon For Auto Repair Market

Source: Forbes.com

I realize that many would be shocked to think that that the advent of driverless cars could actually help auto repair volume, since the prevailing wisdom is that it will have the opposite effect, knocking down the need for car repairs and presumably putting auto repair into the junk heap.

That’s faulty thinking.

1.  A self-driving car is bound to get many more miles under its belt than a traditional car. A lot more miles. Each day. All day long. And what happens when a car gets a ton of miles? Things go wrong and the car needs repairs.

Wear and tear is a law of physics, no matter how good the AI might be on an autonomous car, it’s all still a car.

2.  There is also the need to deal with the myriad of additional sensors, such as the multiple cameras, the radar units, the ultrasonic units, perhaps the LIDAR units, and the rest. Those are going to breakdown. Each driverless car might have upwards of several dozen high-tech sensors, which suggests the chances of sensor failures and sensor replacements are going to be high, multiplied by however many millions of such cars eventually get onto the roadways.

Is That Guy Breaking Into Your Car? No, It’s Just Amazon

Source: Ford

Ford is partnering with Amazon to allow package deliveries to your vehicle when you’re not home. With in-car connectivity and location info available to Ford and Amazon, your daily driver could soon be a safe alternative delivery location. Should roll out in the U.S. soon for Prime members who own 2017 and newer Fords, and 2018 and newer Lincoln models. They’re also rolling out mobile car wash vendor services called Spiffy in Atlanta, LA, Charlotte, and Raleigh, meanwhile, a similar service called Rub-a-Dub will open in Chicago and another called Sparkl is in the works. Who would trust people in their car? The same folks with cleaning services at their home?

Daryl met a really nice guy and his partner while looking at a car trailer for sale to the east of us. His garage was open and he had a mid-1930s Ford coupe in there with a for sale sign in the window. My friend and I decided to knock on the door and ask about it. From there, we somehow lost five hours and got a tour that was second to none. His collection included a Model T speedster, a Packard sedan, Auburn replica, old Chevy roadster, Jaguar, and many other beauties. He also has some nice vintage automobilia. Super friendly and hospitable, and we had a great time Sunday afternoon.

Takeaways

  • Never be afraid to explore.
  • As long as you’re wearing overalls and driving a truck, people will be nice to you.
  • Always have something handy that you can give as a gift to people you come across.

Moment of  Musk

Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, who are underwriting Tesla’s latest effort to raise $2 billion in new funds, held a “broad investor call” on Thursday, where CEO Elon Musk and CFO Zach Kirkhorn answered brokers’ questions about their plans for the electric vehicle maker.

According to two invitees who attended the call, CEO Elon Musk talked up Tesla’s self-driving strategy right off the bat, expanding what he and other execs said at a recent event for investors that the company dubbed “Autonomy Day. ”

Musk confidently told investors on the call that autonomous driving will transform Tesla into a company with a $500 billion market cap. Its current market cap stands around $42 billion. He also said that existing Teslas will increase in value as self-driving capabilities are added via software, and will be worth up to $250,000 within three years.

Buy a Tesla for tomorrow kids… They are going to increase in value!!!

Riff Zone

Eric: A customer recently said the following: “Oh, If I would have known that my free services were over… I would have never come back to the dealership”.  I understand. I “get it” (I hate that phrase. Hear Marvel use it all the time?) Are we that more expensive? What is the trend?

Independent Auto Shops vs. Dealerships.

Another way that the auto repair industry is being affected by the internet is with DIY (do-it-yourself) vs. DIFM (do-it-for-me). With an infinite amount of information on the internet, many drivers look towards the internet for advice and tutorials on quick fixes for their vehicles. That being said, in a report by the AutoCare Association, 80 percent of drivers choose DIFM. Of those DIFM drivers, 70 percent choose to go to independent auto shops and the other 30 percent choose to go to the car dealer for repairs. That’s a pretty good outlook, right?

According to Consumer Reports’ 2016 Annual Auto Survey, people feel more comfortable going to independent auto repair shops than they do dealerships. The report lists that shops outscored dealerships for “overall satisfaction, price, quality, courteousness of the staff and work being completed when promised.”1

For independent auto repair shops, these statistics give a great outlook for where consumers are choosing to have their repairs completed. With continued hard work and effort being put forth by independent shops, people will continue to visit the local auto repair shop that they trust. Customer loyalty is one of the main advantages that independent shops have over big dealerships, so it is important to place a focus on this.

People can’t even cook for themselves….  Who is going to work on their car???

Daryl: Isn’t really pissed about anything this week. That’s a new one.

Cars of the Week

Eric : 1988 Toyota LJ73 Land Cruiser two-door

Current Price: $11,000 on Bring a Trailer

This 1988 Toyota Land Cruiser is a two-door hardtop which was imported from Spain by the seller in 2013. Subsequent work reportedly included a repaint in blue with side graphics, new gaskets and belts for its 2.4-liter turbodiesel inline-four, and replacement of the shocks, tires, turbocharger, brakes, and more. Modifications consist of a brush bar, a winch, LED lighting, an aftermarket stereo system, and other items. This LJ73 shows 279k kilometers (~174k miles) and is offered with a clean California title in the seller’s name.

This is where Toyota dropped the ball in the USA…   No removable tops and leaving the 70 series in Asia and all over the world.

Damn you Suzuki or Isuzu for your flipping SUV’s!

 

Daryl: 1995 Bentley Continental R

Current Price: $44,777 (Sold on Bring a Trailer)

These were the most expensive car in the world at $271,000 US  when they were new. 1 of 1,236 built between 1991 and 2003. Clean 9K-mile luxo barge with all the trimmings. Black paint with a nice bone-colored leather with a bazillion gauges. 325 horse / 450 lb-ft of torque comes from a 6.75 liter V8 with a single Garrett turbocharger and shifted through a GM 4L80E truck transmission. A solid, fun road car and the last true personal luxury coupe before everything started to suck.

 

That’s it for now, kids. Catch you all next time, thanks for listening!

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