A bit of nostalgia this morning.
Do you remember GMC Astro's the cab over truck, not the van of later years.
If you have ever been in the truck side of the business you encountered or perhaps even sold Astro's way back in the day.
This morning The Colonel is jogging his memory about Astro's.
The idea of a cab over (hinged truck) was simple, in the US back in the day the overall lenght for a truck and trailer was 55 feet...you needed a cab over to haul in the US...yes 80,000 lbs GCW which by Canadian standards was "light".
Back in the day an Astro was a popular truck. While the styling was appealing compared to other offerings in the segment.
In the truck business for a sales consultant to sell an Astro was comparable to today selling a top of the line luxury car or SUV...it was HUGE to close a deal on an Astro.
Some perspective here...no computers, no word processors, no showroom software for the product. It was a voluminous "data book", accompanied by a comparable price book, to "spec out" and price an Astro or any truck for that matter.
When you hear today about product knowledge, back in the days of Astro's it was product knowledge, and application knowledge. You were the wikipedia of both product and application knowledge. A myriad of exchanges were going on a daily basis among sales consultants exchanging knowledge among themselves regarding applications, usage, fuel economy, speeds, gear ratios...and on and on.
It was a prime example of humans curating, disseminating the knowledge to prospective customers. Not software, not the Internet. It was and still is with trucks..." I'm hauling this from here to there, my GCW is so much, and I want to travel at that speed"....from there the sales consultant would always ask additional questions to uncover the finer points of the application, and expectations.
In trucking terms...the Astro had to lift the load, move it, and overcome wind resistance". Put this into perspective of when HD trucks had about 300 HP to do all of this and no turbos.
Back in the day when folks acquired an HD GMC truck, it had a GM diesel, you did not sell many Astro's without a Detroit Diesel.
These trucks were assembled in Pontiac, Michigan literally hand made in an aging truck plant, which was fascinating to visit and see all the manual operations from riveting aluminum, to bolting various components.
What were the "specs" of an early Astro?
Detroit Diesel 8V71 with 65mm injectors 318 HP, a Fuller RTO9513 13 speed transmission with a 0.85 overdrive ratio, a 12,000 lbs front axle with soft ride springs, and a 38,000 lbs rear tandem either Rockwell or Eaton, and either an Hendrickson extended leaf (Canada) or a Reyco (US) rear suspension. Depending on how fast the truck had to travel it was a 4.11 or 4.33 or 4.44 rear axle ratio.
The specs on the later versions
A Royal Classic cab, Detroit Diesel 8V92 TT or T (365 to 430 HP), a Fuller RTO 12513, and a 40,000 lbs rear tandem usually a Rockwell SQHP with the oil pump to lubricate the power divider, same rear suspensions, the gear ratios were 3.70 or 3.90 or 4.11. The turbo motors had dramatically more torque, and metallic clutches which presented a learning curve for some old school drivers. "Release to clutch and lift the load with the engine, do not try to slip the clutch as you are accustomed with a non turbo motor".
Today cab over trucks are a rare sighting, having been replaced by "conventional" cab trucks with a hood.
If you are a drag racing aficionado this episode of Road Kill is totally cool...its an added bonus if you are also a MoPar fan.
A new month, and in a few days we will see how September sales developed. It will be interesting to observe the results for the 3rd quarter.
If you missed "The Power of Human Energy" its a must...click.
Have you noticed the folks that compile lists of the 10 best of "something" from a narrow perspective, and pedestrian knowledge. The other day we were perusing a 10 best list, and were surprised to see a bunch of stuff that was sort of relevant, but missed the point in the history of the brand of cars.
Its the same with horsepower, as you know several years ago we went on a quest of 600 HP when it did not exist yet from manufacturers. We took our own car and subtlely cranked it up to 600 HP, it was an interesting experience at the time. Years later when folks talk about horsepower, and yes its beyond 600 today but only with a few exceptions. We were there almost a decade ago.
Another yes...if you are a gear head, enthusiast, you absolutely need to experience a 12 cylinder for a period of time. It will cost you some money, but its a memorable experience, especially in an age of 4 cylinders with turbos, a 12 cylinder with turbos is in a league of its own, and truly a luxury motor.
Not to honk our horn, through the years we have had the opportunity to enjoy "tweaked" 12 cylinders which were an absolute joy. We love V8's but nothing generates horsepower, and pulls like a 12 cylinder.
If you live in the suburbs and have not ventured in your respective downtown area on a Saturday, we urge you to do it, its a revealing experience. Last Saturday night we experience the downtown core of Toronto with a baseball game ending, a hockey game starting, and a myriad of other activities and events. Busy, people, congested is an understatement, as well as a cool experience that tests the patience.
For some reason a ton of "MerbimAu's" converge downtown on a Saturday night.
From our perspective the VW debacle was last week, and had been going on for several years. You have to credit those folks for being "bold" and perhaps for a fleeting moment think they were "masters of the universe" until the shit hit the fan.
For a different view people and not cars Celebrating the People of the Goodwood Revival.
A fascinating talk by Angela Ahrendts on human energy.
Hint: If you are in any business, but especially in the auto business at the retail level, we urge you to connect dots that resonate with you.
You know the saying "We are in the people business through cars"
At times in 2015 its easy to think that you plug into the OBD and all the issues of a vehicle will be diagnosed with a fault code. Its the case when some sort of light turns on in the dash, usually the CEL (check engine light).
Looking at any vehicle there are so many systems, sub systems, that one needs technology to diagnose the technology in the vehicle in a fast efficient manner that is acceptable to the customer.
It also makes life easier for manufacturers in dealing with warranty claims, when the dealer must mention the code, and the manufacturer can request additional information/data regarding the code. Prior to paying a warranry claim.
With all the technology floating around we can easily forget the decades old mechanical components of all vehicles. While overlooking the knowledge base that is required to have a deep understanding of the mechanical components, and their functions.
All vehicles still have tires, wheels, springs be it coil or leaf (pick ups), stabiliser bars, air filters, oil filters, ball joints, steering linkages...to name a few. This stuff has evolved but not changed in decades.
Which is the reason independant shops performing "under chassis" work are still thriving, and score high in customer satisfaction. Reflect on this for a moment.
At the same time when a purely mechanical issue appears on a vehicle it often stumps the savviest of mechanics.
A fairly loud mechanical noise appears on a vehicle, its at the same speed as the wheels turning. To make it interesting its intermittent.
Once at the mechanic the car no longer makes a sound, its all normal.
A few weeks later the sound re appears, its loud, as if something is touching a wheel, then goes away.
A couple of weeks pass by, the sound re appears, this time its not going away which is a good thing. Jack up the car, spin the wheel in question, not a sound. Put it back on the ground, the sound is there again fairly loud too.
With all the technology out there, its a mechnical sound, and where the old school mechanical knowledge base engages and kicks in. Its coming from there, only when this happens, and if that happens its not there. Its a process of eliminating the variables.
There is something going on "there" lets see what it is...
With all the technology...some things don't change. You still need to understand, diagnose the mechanical aspect of a vehicle.
Its 9 years that we are publishing Strada, almost seems like yesterday when we started, and a brief look in the rear view mirror its fascinating to see the myriad of events, changes both seismic and small, that have developed during those years.
Before we forget...Thank You for your support, sharing your thoughts with us, and making it fun.
By now you know that "we don't follow, we lead", as well as not being in the eyeball business, we are in the thought provoking business. We constantly urge folks to apply their intelligence, look ahead, while taking a 360 degree perspective, to push the envelope, connect dots, and be remarkable in their own way.
What do we know of the auto business as we call it? The Colonel's father was a mechanic a couple of generations ago. We did not have an auto epiphany, we grew up, evolved, earned a living with cars, and we persist in being PASSIONATE about cars, and the business surrounding cars.
The Colonel has evolved in the auto business at various levels, and positions. Yes...he is still involved in the auto business to this day.
Yes...in our own way on some days we remain "big kids"....playing with cars.
We surely don't have all the answers, we never did and never will, but at times we seem to have all the thought provoking questions.
What does it take to keep on going for 9 years? LOVE - PASSION that will keep us going for many years to come.
Yes...we still use the Squarespace 5 platform that has been tweaked to better enable mobile users, and the entire 9 years of content is available, and searchable. Use the search feature you might be susprised as to what you will uncover. Somedays we are surprised.
More old race cars from the Goodwood Revival-Whitsun Trophy.
Its a reality of the current global auto business, saving costs while making room for increased technology.
Back in the days of mechanical vehicles we all knew who was putting more "substance" in a vehicle, and who was skimping. The trick was to make components that lasted beyond the duration of the warranty. The substance was "how much longer" would they last.
At one point The Colonel made the following observation about a specific manufacturer "They shortened the license plate screws what else have they measured and cut?"
In the auto industry at times it made better economic sense for a manufacturer to pay out claims, than re engineer specific components which would have been more costly. Reflect on this for a moment...
Back in the day the spread between MSRP and cost was 15% and on some models a touch more, and the usual holdback amount. When you finished doing a deal the gross was 8-10% of cost plus the holdback. Obvious back then customers concluded that dealers were making 30-40-50% gross.
Today the spread between MSRP and cost is 8-10%, then there are the monthly incentives from the manufacturers, so much cash back, or such a rate, or a combination of both. In addition to volume bonuses for dealers if they reach specific targets. Its dynamic and changing on an as needed basis to move iron.
Better yet customers expect this dynamic pricing on a monthly basis to incite them to finalise a decision. The customer got a great deal with a compelling promotion, while the dealer hit the volume bonus with that vehicle.
If you have a "feeling " that current dynamic pricing incites manufacturers to increase their cost saving efforts, you might be correct.
If you have the feeling that "strong" components still cost money, you might be correct.
Between cost savings, less platforms, increased common components, the product is better than back in the day. While the components will outlast the warranty on the vehicle.
Some manufacturers are more aggressive in their cost saving efforts than others, components come from the other side of the planet to save the last fraction of a penny.
Every manufacturer benchmarks the competition, everyone is learning from everybody.
There are a gazillion cost saving decisions made around the planet on a daily basis, its perhaps naive to think that all these decisions have been thought out, and reflected. Although they should, we have seen that with common components, be it air bags, to software code. When the shit hits the fan its in the million of units.
While the technology content of any vehicle increases its disposability, and although the mechanical components might endure for decades with proper maintenance, the technology has a best before date.
What do you think?