The manly art of car buying
We've all heard of the term "chick flick" to describe movies that, shall we say, usually don't feature Ah-nold, various forms of weaponry, or guys grunting monosyllabic answers to pertinent questions such as, "Got enough ammo, Duke?"
Brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi, alias "Click & Clack," recently asked readers of their "Car Talk" newspaper column and Web site visitors to rate the top five "chick" and top five "guy" cars. Here's how the lists played out (No. 1 being the top choice), with some accompanying comments from voters:
Chicks: 5. Dodge Neon—"Neons are Barbie cars: little and cute and rounded in the hips. Even in black, they are feminine and adorable, only just a bit tougher, like Tatoo Barbie."
4. VW Jetta—"Anything by Volkswagen is a chick car.|VW realized this years ago and joined forces with another company to sell guy cars—they call that company Porsche."
3. Mazda Miata—"I discovered this phenomenon when I got a Miata. `Girlie car.' That's all I heard." (Obviously from a male driver—hope he doesn't develop a complex.)
2. VW Cabriolet—"All teenage girls classify them as cute."
1. VW New Beetle—"A chick car, definitely. And made to be so. How? I know of no other automobile with a flower vase as standard equipment."
Guys: 5. Dodge Viper—"It might be a guy car if there were a movie or TV show built around it." Examples include Burt Reynolds' Trans Am in "Smokey and the Bandit," Nash Bridges' Barracuda and private eye Jim Rockford's Firebird. (The Viper simply oozes testosterone—probably could run on it if you're out of gas.)
4. Ford F-150 Pickup—"Any car with numbers or letters for a name, or tacked on the end, can become a guy car."
3. Chevy Camaro—"With twice the horsepower needed. It's used to show other guys how manly you really are." (Though we have to say that a friend's teen-age daughter drove one just to show how "tough" she was.)
2. Chevy Corvette—"I believe the main aspect that determines the male/female state of a car is based on the engine-compartment (hood)-to-cab length ratio. A car such as a pickup or Corvette has a large hood-to-cab length ratio."
1. Ford Mustang—"A back seat guaranteed to be too small for your mother-in-law." (And that same friend's daughter drove a 5.0-litre 'stang, so what does that mean?)
This 'n that
Speakie English?—When the King's vernacular gets translated to foreign tongues, sometimes the results can be bizarre, to say the least. Take for instance this example:
The title from an East Asian book for beginning English speakers: "Correctly English in 100 Days."
Then there's this comment by Othal Brand, a member of the Texas pesticide review board. In hindsight, he may have wished he wasn't speaking in English when he reportedly said, of the chemical chlordane: "Sure it's going to kill a lot of people, but they may be dying of something else anyway."
Not a math champion—Johnny Walker, a world middleweight wrist-wrestling champion, described what he thought it takes to be a champ: "It's about 90 percent strength and 40 percent technique." (And no doubt he gives 110 percent.)
No reader of Gray's Anatomy—University of Kentucky basketball forward Winston Bennett noted: "I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body." (We've heard of people being "all thumbs," but perhaps Winston is all knees.)
It's not every day that you get to meet an honest-to-gosh "legend."
At the Tire Association of North America's "Hall of Fame Breakfast" last fall in Las Vegas during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, Bud Mullaney, president of Mullaney's Tire & Car Care Center, did just that. When hockey great Wayne Gretzky, the keynote speaker at the Goodyear-sponsored event, passed by his table, Bud's wife, Mary, snapped a picture of them (that's Bud on the right).
Thus far, one-outlet Mullaney's Tire, based in Matawan, N.J., has had a "very good" season for snow tire sales, Mr. Mullaney reports, thanks to bad weather. So, did Bud get some good hockey advice (or tips for better snow tire sales) from Wayne, who happens to be Goodyear's winter tire spokesperson?
Naw. But he did procure Wayne's autograph. Might we see that turn up for sale on e-Bay some day?
Beware the oinker
If you're bundled up against the cold, rubbing a couple P205/75R15's together to stay warm, we don't want to scare you, but you should always be prepared for nasty weather fronts that could strike at any moment.
In early December the folks at Canadian Tire Corp. sent out a sheet of tips for motorists to heed as, the press release warned, the "Polar Pig" approaches. It is advice any dealer in a cold weather area should recommend to their customers, such as having good jumper cables, a working jack, a heavy-duty flashlight, large lug wrench and small fire extinguisher (if it's really cold, a small fire doesn't sound too bad, does it?)
The Toronto-based mega-retailer also suggested checking the tread wear on tires, lubricating locks and having a supply of lock de-icer on hand, and don't forget to check those wiper blades and change the oil.
But back to that Polar Pig—what the heck is it? Warning that meteorologists were forecasting a dramatic drop in temperature, Canadian Tire described the nasty swine as an extremely frigid Arctic air mass. We've heard of pork-barrel politics, but this sow will really frost your knickers.
Let 'em eat cake
Sorry, Marie Antoinette, but sometimes, when you're running a tire dealership, you're called upon to do some pretty unusual things that aren't exactly spelled out in the ol' job description.
At a Big O Tires Inc. store in Salt Lake City, a tire salesman went way beyond the call of duty, and may have secured a customer for life.
According to Big O's Treadmore Tribune newsletter, Salt Lake resident Alexis Devlin Norling had ordered for her husband, Brian, a custom-made birthday cake—his favorite, a Black Forest cake—from a local bakery. But on her way to pick it up, she got caught in traffic, arriving at the bakery a couple minutes after the 6 p.m. closing time.
The place was locked, the lights extinguished, and her frantic calls to the baker went unanswered.
So she ran next door to a Big O store to check the Yellow Pages in search of another bakery that could make a cake by 8 that night, when the family was gathering in a downtown restaurant to celebrate Brian's B-Day. Time was of the essence because she also had to pick him up at the airport from a business trip.
When calls to a number of bakeries proved futile, a tire guy in the store who identified himself only as "Dan" told Mrs. Norling not to worry. He'd taken several pastry classes and would be happy to leave work, buy the ingredients, make the Black Forest cake and get it to the dinner on time.
Sure enough, at the appointed hour the cake was dropped off at the restaurant and, with birthday candles blazing, was brought to the Norling's table by a waiter.
And the tire guy with a penchant for pastry? He's none other than Dan Smith, owner of the Big O store. "I love to bake, so it was fun," he told the Tribune.
Now that's really taking customer service to the extreme. Hey Dan, why not consider a combination tire store-bakery?