The annual Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) shows in Las Vegas last November again drew record-setting crowds. All types of people. Such as the guy we spotted with the name Donald Duck on his badge. He looked ``normal'' enough—at least he didn't walk or quack like his namesake.
Show trivia: Outside the Sands Expo Center was a giant inflated green dragon holding a bottle of the automotive and household cleaning product ``Simple Green,'' featured at an AAIW show booth.
The name of the product's dragon mascot is ``Egbar''—short for ``Everything's Gonna Be All Right.''
With exploding, imploding, sensationalistic toys out there, do kids still have any interest in a plain old wagon?
Actually, the model shown below is anything but plain. Amid all the hot cars and customized vehicles at the AAIW, the ``Windsor Wagon'' seemed to hold its own. It was on display in the automotive art gallery at the Specialty Equipment Market Association's show.
Literature said this air flow wagon with operating lights ``is an authorized reproduction of the original Sherrell Classic—not a knock off!!'' But this is no little red wagon from bygone days. Kits—starting at $395—are available from Windsor Fabrications in Battle Creek, Mich.; (616) 964-2128. Take it out of your kid's allowance. For the next five years.
Move over ``soccer moms.'' The S-MX, a new compact minivan made by Honda Motor Co. and sold in Japan, is being targeted directly at young couples without children. And perhaps S-E-X may play a hand in whether or not it sells well.
The boxy van features fully reclining front and rear seats that fold down to form a flat, single cushioned surface. As quoted in Automotive News, Tokyo-based analyst Saul Rubin of SBC Warburg Japan Ltd. called the vehicle ``something akin to a love hotel on wheels.''
Perfect for those cheesy bumper stickers that say: ``If you see this van rockin', don't come knockin!''
Japanese companies shot to the top of the automobile industry with their compact cars.
Now, according to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, they're hoping the ``microcar'' will position them as leaders of one of the most promising industries of the future.
The microcar is a replica, at one one-thousandth the size, of Toyota Motor Corp.'s first car, the 1936 Model AA sedan. It's as tiny as a grain of rice, but has 24 parts, including tires, wheels, axles, headlights and taillights, and hubcaps that carry the company name inscribed in microscopic letters.
The motor contains only five parts and is 0.7 millimeters in diameter. It can propel the car at speeds of up to 2 inches per second.
The paper said the microcar was developed by Denso Corp., a Toyota affiliate.
It demonstrates Japanese micromachine technology, which uses parts as small as a speck of dust to build mechanisms. Backed by the government, the Japanese companies, which are considered the world's masters of miniaturization, are now hoping to make complete machines the size of insects.
These machines could be be used for such applications as a pipe-inspection machine, medical devices that can be threaded through blood vessels, and a microfactory small enough to fit on a desk and more energy-efficient than a conventional factory.
Denso did discover a problem with its mini-car: since it was so light and the wheels so small, the friction between wheel and road that propels a real car did not work well for the microcar.
But the microbes driving it didn't seem to mind.
We all complain about potholes, don't we? But in East Haddam, Conn., Consumers Union, the company that does testing for Consumer Reports magazine, asked for permission to build a private road pocked with dependably large chuck holes, fitted with high crowns, and covered with a lousy surface.
The road, expected to cost $600,000, would be designed to stay consistently bad—to test things like vehicle suspension, steering and shocks.
``They're making the roads all around us better and better, and that's a problem,'' complained a company official.
Web sites seem to be all the rage.
A press release from Arena Marketing Inc. publicizing the CCAR-GreenLink' System's World Wide Web site bragged that ``in July alone, 10,000 hits were registered against'' it.
That's probably a better record than the Mafia can boast about.
CCAR stands for the Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair. GreenLink' is a government-industry partnership chartered to provide environmental compliance information to the automotive industry.
You can view the site at http://www.ccar-greenlink.org. Better wear a bullet-proof vest.
We discovered, in the most unlikely of places, a long-sought aid for parents with mouthy kids. A headline in the Listener newsletter of Toledo Trans-Kit Inc., Toledo, Ohio, said: ``Rebuilders appreciate OEM lip seals.''
Have you ever tried to drive while quieting down a bunch of unruly kids in the back seat? A lip seal sounds like the ideal solution. Heck, we'll settle for an aftermarket version, as long as it works.
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk