Posts from ‘Humor’
According to Doug Bartusek, associate research director for the Council for the Research of Applied Plastic Stick-on Stuff (CRAPSS), after-market car modifications need not be expensive to purchase or difficult to install. According to Bartusek, “Most people don’t realize that all you need to significantly improve your car’s performance can be purchased at your local flea market or Speedway mini mart.”
Speaking to Consumer Guide at the Denny’s in Norridge, Illinois, where CRAPPS holds its nightly meetings, Bartusek explained the group’s mission: “The Council was formed by likeminded enthusiasts anxious to dispel the myth that adhesive-backed vehicle accessories are purely decorative.”
According to Bartusek, membership in the council is limited to regular Norridge Denny’s customers—as determined by assistant store manager Vaijay—who currently own at least one 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am, have owned at least one other Grand Am, and have spent at least $50 on adhesive-back automotive accessories in the past 12 months. CRAPSS currently has five active members, all of whom serve on the board of directors and hold a Denny’s Rewards Gold Card.
Hoping to learn about how adhesive-backed accessories can improve the performance of certain vehicles, we presented Doug with three examples of well-modified cars all spotted in the Chicago area in the past month. Here is what we learned:
We at Consumer Guide often let major anniversaries slip by unnoticed, instead paying undue attention to lesser milestones. In keeping with that fine tradition, we honor the introduction of the poster child for wasteful motoring. And yes — it really has been ten years since you first saw a Hummer H2.
Has a decade really passed since you burst onto the scene?
Dear Mishawaka-built paramilitary machine.
You were conceived as a Humvee, softened for the masses,
but appealed most to guys with mullets and Oakley sunglasses.
With a gross-vehicle weight over eighty-five hundred,
your EPA numbers were never reported.
Though your off-road prowess earned you some serious merit,
noted GM’s Docherty, “You don’t drive an H2, you wear it.”
But as fashion, H2, your appeal just couldn’t last,
as gas shot past three bucks to four bucks too fast.
‘Twas twenty ought three when you were first sold,
and twenty ought nine when your factory went cold.
You were held as example of General Motors gone bad,
and when your time came, too few were sad.
How different now, H2, is GM you might ask.
Well, two Buick Encores wouldn’t fill your roof racks.
By most accounts, the epicenter of the automotive dark years was 1980. That was the year that the only Corvette Californians could buy was powered by a 5.0-liter V8 saddled to an automatic transmission. The early ’80s was the era of downsizing, sticker shock, and the furtive and desperate shade-tree “desmogging” of under-powered, low-compression engines.
I entered high school in 1979; thus, my formative car-guy years were among the lamest in automotive history. I still came to love the automobile, but perhaps in a different way than folks only 10 years my senior. I didn’t hate front-wheel drive, I accepted the passing of the big block, and I learned that handling could be appreciated as much as acceleration.
Folks roughly my age will understand what I am talking about. We read about cars more than we worked on them. We considered pegging an 85-mph speedometer an accomplishment, and we worshipped German cars as much as we did Hemi-powered anythings. We read Brock Yates before he became a self-promoting jerk, and we knew the difference between TBI, TPI, and SPFI.
I never quite got past the Mercury Villager Nautica. Someone funnier than me once called it “a vehicle that’s not quite a van wearing a label that’s not quite designer.” Not quite as troubling, but clearly overreaching, was the Chevrolet Venture Warner Brothers Edition. I recall that this bit of silly cobranding got Chevy into trouble when it wanted to sponsor events at Disney.
Sure, some licensing deals worked better than others. The Eddie Bauer Fords seemed reasonably appropriate, as did the L.L.Bean Subarus. But for every licensing arrangement that makes sense, there are two that perplex. Need I remind everyone of the Mercury Milan Voga? Actually, I probably do.
So, to preempt automakers from actually considering new branding arrangements, I offer the following examples. Should one of these ideas actually come to fruition, I want a cut—say, five dollars a car and all the bread sticks I can carry.
Mitsubishi Lancer Mercedes-Benz Edition
Mitsubishi knows that folks with high aspirations can’t always swing the payments on the car they really want. The Mercedes-Benz edition Lancer addresses the gap between desire and affordability with a car that looks (a little) and feels (a little) like a German luxury car, but costs little more than a base Lancer. Special features include a Mercedes-Benz “Tri-Star” grille insert, unique Mercedes-Benz rear-deck badging, and a real Mercedes-Benz key fob*.
I last pumped gas for pay sometime in 1985. It was then that I last peeked into another person’s car using a windshield squeegee as cover for my furtive voyeurism. You can learn a lot about a person while nosing around their car. I’m pretty sure most folks pulling up to full-serve weren’t thinking about what conclusions were being drawn about them while they filled up. But us pump jockeys, we noticed stuff.
We saw what you read, what you drank, and we even heard what you listened to on the radio. We also noticed what was hanging from your rearview mirror. I’d say that about 40 percent of cars then had something hanging there, and in most cases it was an air freshener of some sort dangling in the way of what should have been a clear shot of the road.
I present here the four most common air fresheners seen in the mid-1980s. Sadly, a fifth freshener, the classic Brut 33, is no longer available and an image of it is elusive. Perhaps another time. . . .
When you drive a Nissan Leaf or some other all-electric car, you’re always in danger of running out of charge on the road. And if you run out, you’re screwed. There’s no such thing as a portable charger. Unless you can push the car to an electrical outlet, you’re stranded until a truck arrives to haul it to a charging station.
Electric vehicle owners are said to suffer from “range anxiety,” meaning the fear of running out of charge and being stranded. I drove a Leaf for a few days and I began to experience range anxiety dreams. Tossing and turning in a cold sweat, I envisioned myself being stranded . . .
There’s a brand of commercial toilet paper named Surpass. Really. I can’t help but chuckle when I think about the pitch meeting in which that name was first introduced. Given that the one-ply, generically wrapped, oh-too-necessary office supply would likely be pitched only to accountants, property managers, and inventory assistants, you’d think that a name like Stingy Wipe or Econo-Komfort might make more sense.
Industrial-grade toilet paper marketers have nothing on automakers when it comes to colorful and overreaching product names. As examples, I submit the following five vehicles—some of which are otherwise darn fine rides—that brandish surprisingly misleading names.
Ford Aspire, 1994-1997
The joke around the office is that an Aspire owner aspires to drive anything else. Reviled by the motoring media, the tiny hatchback was among the country’s first Korean captive imports. Aspire was built by Kia, sold by Ford, and largely ignored by the buying public. An apt analogy for the Aspire ownership experience might go something like this: A man who aspires to new-car ownership and ends up with an Aspire is like a bird that aspires to flight but ends up watching reruns of Wings.
If you’ve ever experienced the nightmare of vehicle theft, you may have unintentionally done one of the following things to contribute to it. However, many times the theft is completely out of the car owner’s control. We assume that no one actually wants to have their car stolen, so the information below can be understood as more of a guideline for how not to get your vehicle taken from you.
Overwhelmingly, vanity license plates that tout professions represent three particular callings: coaching, sales, and teaching. This conclusion is based entirely on personal observation, but let’s call the results scientific anyway.
Plates along the lines of “I COACH M,” “SELLR,” and “TCH KDS” are a dime a dozen. How, one wonders, a plate like “I SELL U” helps close a deal is beyond me, but I have seen that exact message on a realtor’s car. One wonders also if the driver of a car with the plate “TEACHIR” appreciates the irony inherent in the casual spelling.
To encourage folks who might be less likely to share their chosen career paths with the general public to consider vanity plates, I have included some fun examples below. These are free for the taking. If you have your own career-based vanity plate message that you’d like to share with us, let’s hear it.
EDAM 2U GD GOUDA CHDR LDY PEPR JCK
Fast Food Restaurant Employee
MAC 4U WPR MKR SPC SAUC FRS W THT
CASKT SLR WKE HOST RIP GUY HRS DRVR
MK A FST DRAIN U NDL DUDE FND UR VN
Bumper stickers are a scourge. A single sticker can effectively break up the color and contour of what was likely an otherwise decent-looking vehicle. Multiple stickers are blight on the landscape, a dangerous distraction often wielded by the worst of drivers with seemingly little regard for the resale value of their vehicles.
Here I would like to identify the five most prevalent sticker-abuser types. Please note that car stickering, or, as it’s known in the world of automotive psychology, Obsessive Vehicular Appliqué Messaging (OVAM), affects drivers of every race, creed, age group, and income level. Indeed, OVAM is an equal opportunity affliction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .