On the right track? The term ``crawling through traffic'' has been given new meaning by Toyota Motor Corp.
At the recent Los Angeles auto show, the Japanese automaker unveiled its ``Crawler''—based on the 4Runner—for those times when four-wheel low just isn't enough. Replacing the wheels are rubber tank treads, guaranteed to get you places where tires just won't go.
This is not a concept vehicle. The rubber tread units go on and off as easily as wheels, bolting right into the five-lug pattern. Toyota is considering offering them on its 4Runner, Land Cruiser, T100 and Tacoma vehicles. (And tire dealers think they have enough to contend with just handling a plethora of tire sizes!)
Speak softly, but...
TIRE BUSINESS automotive service columnist Dan Marinucci, in our Jan. 20 issue, covered a touchy subject: How to deal with those unruly, screaming customers you just can't seem to please.
In a similar vein, last year Maintenance Matters, the newsletter of The Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations, published some ``tips for winning arguments,'' courtesy of William A. Rusher. Here are his guidelines—with some ``suggestions'' that just might improve on them:
Define your goal (To win at any cost);
Know whom you are up against (Is he bigger than me? Grab a tire iron.);
Don't rush into an argument (First, take time to lock and load);
Ask questions (``Do you want to wear that tire?'');
Keep direct eye contact (some call it ``the evil eye''); and
Don't defend or ignore your actions (If all else fails, you might try pleading ignorance. That sometimes works, though never, it seems, with a traffic cop.)
The $64 million question
The Car Care Council in Port Clinton, Ohio, has published the Car Care Quiz Book, which its author, Art Nellen, believes can help customers at auto service facilities better understand vehicle maintenance. How? Via multiple choice quizzes and humorous cartoons.
Here's an example: ``The ignition switch: (A) opens the PCV valve when the engine is cold; (B) connects the battery to the starting and ignition systems; (C) should be packed with wheel bearing grease every spring.
You did answer ``C,'' didn't you? Just kidding. The correct answer is ``B.'' We think. Thank heaven for open-book tests!
A real identity crisis
Coming up in the March 3 issue of TIRE BUSINESS will be a special report on the Internet, including how it's being used in the tire industry to market tires and fetch more business for independent dealers.
One issue it probably won't cover is the growing concern about ``virtual cross-dressing.'' Sherry Turkle, an author and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, told a group of journalists that sometimes men go online as women to have relationships with women. ``But some women in these online relationships are actually men!'' (Huh? Take a moment to think about that one.)
Computer users try gender-swapping for fantasy and entertainment reasons, but also for ``personal growth,'' said the psychologist/social scientist in an article in Editor & Publisher magazine.
Life is so complicated. How will we ever be able to tell if the emperor has any clothes? It might really be the empress.
This 'n thatd
Truth in government: A headline in Waste News, a sister publication of TIRE BUSINESS—``Congress revives interstate waste''—seemed to sum up the sorry state our government is in.
As if politicians don't waste enough on their own turf, now they want to export it to other states?
An interesting ``factoid'' that almost slipped by us: The secret to success in indoor motorcycle racing, according to one rider, is ``good starts and clean tires.''
To enhance traction, they put Coca-Cola syrup on the racing surface so the rubber sticks to it, he said. Then in between races, ``you have to scrub the tires clean with hot, soapy water.''
Musing: In three short years, folks, we are in for a predicament. Right now, calling a car model by its year's prefix, such as a '97-mobile, is a no-brainer.
But what will we call them in the year 2000? An ``oh-oh''? Or perhaps a ``triple-zip''? Suggestions are welcome—though of course they're all for naught.
Damning with faint praise department: The United Kingdom's Car magazine said of the newly redesigned Chevy Corvette: ``It's as American as a drive-by shooting—but much less unpleasant.''
Must we be so unkind as to retort with an oxymoron about ``British cuisine''?
The Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair's CCAR—GreenLink program has received Vice President Al Gore's noted ``Hammer Award'' for ``attuning us to the unique environmental needs of small business in general and the automotive service and repair industry in particular. . . .''
The award is the Veep's symbolic answer to the infamous $600 hammers and $200 toilet seats of the ``old government.'' Ah, the good old days. Are they really gone?
A star is born
The quirky movie Fargo is sure to grab at least a couple Academy Award nominations this spring.
Last year when the flick was being filmed in Minnesota, car mechanic Jose Ibarra of Crookston, then just a student wrench jockey, kept all the cars seen in the movie in running order and even got to drive them in some movie scenes.
Producers found him after contacting his school—Northwest Technical College in East Grand Forks, Minn.—in search of a mechanic. They liked his work so much they recommended him to a New Jersey firm that rents portable living quarters to production companies and sends mechanics along to maintain them.
After Fargo, Mr. Ibarra even received a job offer to work on the filming of Grumpier Old Men. But he turned it down because he still had a few more classes to take to finish his auto mechanic degree.
Last we heard, he was working as an auto service tech in Warren, Minn. Autograph, anyone?
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk