But is it termite proof? Turns out, one of the recent Geneva Motor Show's darlings wasn't some new sport-utility the size of a naval destroyer that came with its own docking instruction manual.
It was the little ol' Morgan Aero 8. Actually, a new old Aero, since the small Malvern, England, auto maker, Morgan Motor Co., which has managed 90 years of continually making the sporty two-seaters, is launching its first all-new car in 64 years.
One of the most unique features of the car has always been its traditional, handmade ash frame. That's right, a wooden frame, which is described by Matthew Parkin, company sales and marketing manager, as "incredibly strong, yet light. The typical door in a modern car weighs more than one of our ash frames."
And they don't make as good kindling, either.
Men and women: La difference
We received a frighteningly accurate e-mail meant, we guess, to be a joke. But maybe not.
It involves the following oil-changing instructions (the ones for men were edited slightly, but you'll catch the drift):
Women—Pull into one of those quick-lube places when the mileage reaches 3,000 since the last oil change. Then drink a cup of coffee and, 15 minutes later, write a check and leave with a properly maintained vehicle.
Men (you know who you are)—First, you go to an auto parts store and write a check for 50 bucks for oil, filter, hand cleaner, a scented tree, plus the kitty litter-like stuff that soaks up oil. Back home, you discover your used-oil container is full; instead of recycling, you dump the oil in a hole in the back yard.
You crack open a cold brew. (Sounds better already.)
Jack the car up, then spend a half-hour looking for jack stands. Stressed out, you open another beer and drink it. Placing the drain pan under the engine, you start looking for the 9/16 box wrench, give up and use a crescent wrench.
Unscrewing the drain plug, you end up dropping it in the pan of hot oil, some of which splashes all over you. You clean up—have another beer while the oil is draining—then start looking for the oil filter wrench.
In frustration, you give up, poke a hole in the filter with a screwdriver and twist it off. Time for another beer. A buddy shows up and you both finish off the case of beer and decide to resume the oil change tomorrow.
The next day, as you're pulling the pan full of old oil out, you spill a bunch, so you apply the kitty litter stuff and begin thinking about another beer, 'til you realize you finished it off yesterday. So you head to the 7-11.
Eventually, you actually pour new oil into the crankcase—before realizing the drain plug's in the pan of old oil. So you hurry to replace it as a fresh quart drains onto the floor. Wrench still in hand, you slip on the oily floor, bang your head, start a cussing fit and throw the wrench.
After cleaning up and applying a band-aid to your skinned knuckles, you decide to assuage your pain with, of course, a beer. And so on. Sound familiar, guys?
At that rate, it could turn into a three-day job. But then, who really cares as long as the brew's cold.
In our never-ending quest for new products with bizarre names, we got a press release from Coolballs.com.
The company, founded in 1999 in California (where else?) by Lisa Sievers, designs, manufactures and sells a wide range of durable foam antenna balls and pencil toppers. "Cool Balls let you and your car have a unique identity," she said of the product's proprietary designs, all of which are three-dimensional and sport sunglasses.
You get your choice among the original Coolball, Cool Cowgirl, Cool Cowboy, Cool California Sunshine and others. Whether or not they're truly "cool" is subjective.
OK, class. Your Japanese language instructor today is Rick Brennan, director of product planning for Yokohama Tire Corp. During a company-sponsored trip to Mexico recently, he told trade journalists that the word "yokohama" means "by the beach."
Not that we didn't believe him, but we went to a language translation site on the Internet to do some studying of our own. Sure enough, "yoko" means "beside" in Japanese (after all, Yoko Ono always seemed to be alongside John Lennon). And "hama" does indeed mean "beach."
Ironically, English translations for the word "ono" include axe and hatchet, which might seem appropriate since many fans accused Ms. Ono of breaking up the Beatles.
On the other hand, Japanese words for "son" are sochi, sai, segare and sotsu. However, we weren't successful in figuring out how to say "son of a beach."
Dreaming—A press release faxed to TB by the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB) posed a timely hypothesis: "Imagine a world without retreads."
Uh...kind of like a day without sunshine? Or maybe more accurately, a day without less-expensive truck tires and bigger scrap tire piles. Sounds like a nightmare.
To the moon, Alice—Of little surprise to anyone, Americans are driving a lot more (and enjoying it less?).
The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., estimates U.S. motorists' annual driving mileage in 1998 equaled 5 million roundtrips to the moon (Houston, we have a problem). That's a total of 2.5 trillion miles. MEMA found that the number of miles Americans drive each year has grown 66.7 percent since 1980, when it was just under 1.5 trillion. Does that include trips through fast-food drive-throughs?
In the nude to shop—Not quite sure why, but two Internet sites used what appears to be a photo of a bare-nekkid girl, perhaps age 2, in a recent full-page advertisement for their Web sites, which offer to set up a "complete Internet sales and marketing department" for a car dealership.
Under the headline, "Mommy, I found our next car!" the young girl stands on a computer keyboard, looking at a computer screen. It's really hard to tell, but she may be wearing a diaper. So this is supposed to be cute?
That's a big oops—Blame the Associated Press for this booboo: It erroneously reported that GreenMan Technologies Inc., a Lynnfield, Mass.-based tire recycler, had net income of $4.7 million in fiscal 1999. Actually, the firm had reported a net loss of that amount.
Is 30 lashes with a scrapped truck tire worthy punishment?
Steely Dan—Want to buy a piece of auto racing legend Dan Gurney? Well, actually, a bit of the thousands of memorabilia from his personal collection.
They'll be available over the next few months in what is being called "an unprecedented auction" to be conducted over the Internet by RaceSearch.com, an e-commerce and information site that provides aftermarket parts to auto racing and other high performance automobile enthusiasts.
A sampling of Dan's stuff: Pistons used in the 1975 Indy 500-winning Eagle, driven by Bobby Unser; a 1970 driver suit worn by Mr. Gurney during his final racing season; and a Gurney Weslake cylinder head assembly used on the engine of the 1968 Le Mans-winning Ford.
Want Dan's autograph on any item? It'll cost you an extra 10 bucks—donated to the Hoag Cancer Center.
Lost in the brouhaha/tug-of-war over Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez is a definitive answer as to what company manufactured the inner tube the young boy was clinging to when he was rescued off the Florida coast last November (despite Jay Leno joking that it was a Goodyear).
After all, if it weren't for that tube's quality, there likely wouldn't be a debate about where Elian should go.
But at least for a couple days someone on eBay—the Internet auction site—was offering that tube and a slab of plywood covered with straw, claiming it was the "100-percent genuine raft used by Elian." Bidding eventually was halted and the item was pulled after eBay deemed it a hoax. Still, bids topped a colossal $10 million.
Wouldn't you love to get margins like that on a single inner tube or tire sale?