Car spelling — the online sellers’ way

October 26, 2007

I’ve always planned on writing an easy-to-digest how-to guide for selling your car. It’s an interesting topic with many options, each with its own pros and cons.

After perusing Craigslist today (a daily habit), I finally decided that I needed to at least cover one specific area seemingly lost on many individuals out there…and I needed to do it pronto.

For god’s sake, people, if you’re going to list your car for sale, at least spell the name of the car correctly!!! Those of us in the great digital audience are not asking for perfect grammar or a thrilling description worthy of inclusion in a collection of legendary prose. Heck, I personally don’t care if you butcher the spelling of other words, but the make and model of your car is pretty damn important in the effort to sell it.

If you’re too lazy to go outside and look on the trunk (or on the registration, owners manual, or online) for the correct spelling of the make and model, do you honestly think people will believe you’ve changed the oil in the car every 3,000 miles?

I don’t know what it says about the ownership demographic, but Camaro owners seem to be the worst offenders. If I had a dollar for every time I saw an advertisement for a “Camero”, I’d be able to buy that “’69 Camero Rallee Sport” I saw advertised a few months ago.

Probably second on the list of the spelling challenge is Toyota’s Camry. For some reason, people think there’s at least one “e” (or sometimes two) in there. To remember how to spell it, just remember: “When you’re talking about Camry, Toyota engineered out ‘glee’, ‘weeee’, ‘golly gee’, and ‘goodness me’…. because they didn’t include an ‘e’.”

Some sellers seem to have a tough time with Chrysler. Today I saw a listing for a “Cristler”, but my all-time favorite was the ad for a “1997 Christler Town and Country”. Here’s a news flash – if Jesus really is the son of god, don’t you think he’d drive something better than a frigging ten year old minivan?

Too many car sellers obviously slept through geography class. Among these folks include the sellers of a ’87 GMC Siara (Sierra), a ’68 Chevy Malebuu (Malibu) and a ’86 Montey Carlow (Monte Carlo).

Cadillac seems to be a hard one for people to spell. All too often I see “Caddilac” or “Caddillac”. The first Caddy ad I saw today got the Cadillac part correct, but unfortunately called the model an Eldorado “Baritz” — which sounds like a name of a George Barris custom.

One way you should know never to buy a sports car from someone is if they show blatant disregard for the car’s name. How well do you think all those “Alfa Romero”s run that are currently for sale across the Internet? (It’s Alfa Romeo, Mr. Italian Car Owner, coming from a combination of the acronym ALFA (derived from Societa Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili) and the name of Nicola Romeo, the guy who bought the company in 1915.) Similarly, considering that even smart people have never been able to make a Maserati run reliably, I’m guessing that buying a “Mazeratti” with the intention of a good ownership experience is akin to attempting suicide with a plastic spork from KFC.

The bottom line is that if you fail to spell your car’s make and model correctly, it not only makes you look foolish, but also prohibits people like me from finding your vehicle in an online search. So much of selling a car is in presentation and making the buyer feel confident in the quality of the vehicle. Anything you do to jeopardize that image simply makes it harder to sell.

Of course, it’s better to spell the name incorrectly than to not include the name (or any type of basic identification) at all. The guy whose entire listing read “good running too-door cupe $7,500” needed to be euthanized (certainly before he procreated.)

And coming soon – what people expect when your ad says “straight and rust free”.

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MIT’s “fully autonomous” Land Rover LR3

October 22, 2007

Ford just announced that MIT has created the first fully autonomous Land Rover. The corporation donated a LR3 to the school to compete in 2007 Urban Challenge.

Our insider sources tell us that the brilliant MIT students have managed to go beyond the self-driving functionality detailed in the press release. The students set out to ensure this LR3 operates identically to one purchased from the showroom floor, just without the human interaction.

This special LR3 can automatically order a tall nonfat decaf latte from any Starbucks and Tully’s, as well as purchase six pairs of shoes (with plans to return four) from Nordstrom’s. The Land Rover can also display messages bragging of its superior four-by-four capabilities, even though the gravel parking lot at the kiddo’s soccer game is the closest it has ever been to off-roading.

The LR3’s fully automated systems enable it to visit the local Land Rover dealership to fix all those things that have inevitably broken or simply stopped working each week. It automatically communicates with service advisors to inform that dealership mechanics failed to fix the problems that were specifically requested to be addressed in the previous service appointment.

Most importantly, the MIT students built in the functionality for the Land Rover to self-actualize. At some point within the first three years, the MIT LR3 will reach its break-point, drive itself to a Lexus dealer, ask to be replaced by something more reliable and comfortable, ands accept a trade-in value translating to a higher cost-per-mile than if the vehicle had been a Lamborghini.


Californians — get your new oil burner before they’re all gone

October 16, 2007

For the first time in a decade, Californians will be able to obtain and register a brand-spanking new diesel car.  Mercedes-Benz just announced it will make its E320 BLUETEC sedan available to those in the land of beaches, wine, redwoods, and Lindsay Lohan.

Don’t look at this as more than dipping its toe in the Californian market, though.  Nobody will actually be able to buy an E320 BLUETEC.  Mercedes-Benz will only be offering the cars at a price very similar to the E320’s gas-powered brother only via a special two-year-24,000 mile lease.  Given the amount of driving that the average Californian does, this lease is shorter than Vern Troyer standing in sand trap.

If you’re saying that this seems a wee bit like “Who Killed the Electric Car”, where manufacturers like GM and Honda leased the electric vehicles to customers, only to pull them back and crush them after the lease period expired, don’t get all conspiracy theory-ish just yet.  Chances are that this was simply the only way the boys and girls in Sacramento would allow Mercedes’ oil burner into the state.

It’s no secret that I’ve been a frequent outspoken voice against the diesel panacea – or for that matter, alternative fuel vehicles.  I’ve been accused of being in cahoots with the gas companies.  My only problems with diesel are that it a) trades long-term damage to the environment for immediate harm to lungs and heart, and b) still requires louder, less-sporting, lower-revving, and engines that are costlier to repair.

That being said, I applaud Mercedes for being a leader in making diesel products significantly better.  Along with Audi, and to some degree, VW, Mercedes has made the US companies look like they are standing still on diesel technology.  Mercedes engineers have figured out how to remove the majority of particulates/soot from exhaust, as well as significantly improve NVH (that’s noise, vibration and harshness) from the entire ride.

And unlike, BMW, which has a habit of forcing technology down the throat of its customers, Mercedes is realistic about its customers’ behavior.  In the works at the company was a next-generation liquid filtering system for diesel particulates.  Unfortunately, the liquid would require replacement every 10,000 miles, so the company decided to pull it, citing that customers (especially in America) wouldn’t remember or would object to perform this routine maintenance.

Hopefully Mercedes will see success with this program and be the first company to have a 50-state-legal diesel in years.  This in turn might make other automakers abandon the ethanol pipe dream (or windfall, if you’re a corn grower!) and return to competitively innovating diesel power.


BMW M3 Sedan returns to showrooms during Spring 2008

October 8, 2007

2009 M3 Sedan

Sports car enthusiasts with children or dogs are dancing in the streets today, because BMW just sent me a note confirming the next-generation M3 will be available with four doors. This means that those in the market for a German-made uber-sedan won’t have to spring for the spendy M5, or A8S, for that matter.

Those who like the idea of the hot four door Bimmer should be thanking Subaru right now, because it’s the WRX that made compact performance sedans popular. “But wait a second,” you’re saying, “BMW had an M3 Sedan before.” Sure, but it sold poorly. Those days, however, are over…and now the market for performance sedans is hotter than the average car stereo sold on eBay.

Arriving in Spring 2008, the M3 Sedan will use the same four-liter V8 producing 414 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque that will be found in the M3 coupe. Almost everything, including steering, throttle response, and suspension will be driver adjustable.

And yes, there will still be i-Drive.

The M3 Sedan might not be the best choice for resale value or ultimate collectability. Sedans never achieve the collector value of coupes or convertibles, which means bargain hunters will be able to pick up a used M3 sedan in ten or so years for a song. And pity the six or four cylinder-powered M3 coupe owner who challenges the cajones of the 2009 M3 Sedan owner!

Sure, there are those who say the sedan and convertible dillute the sport-racing image (and original homologation-special intention) of the M-series. This is about sales, though. And if there’s one thing that the last five years or so have seen, it’s that powerful sedans sell.