The New Cars are Sprouting

I went to the Denver Auto Show to look at all the new, neat, origami-folded sheet metal that are called cars these days. With all the thin gauge, high strength steel in use, a dent can now be just a panel replacement as the body cannot be metal worked like in the old days. In addition, a car costs more that my house did in 1974. Electric cars are now starting to bloom, and I predict there is going to be a very competitive market. I really did not see anything at the Denver Auto Show that cost less than $40K, and what I would want to buy cost well over $50K. I am motivated more than ever to do preventive maintenance on my daily driver. I could not resist the pretty young women and their invitation to get my picture taken as a hero race car driver. Silly but fun! Fortunately, it is an exhibition car with a door that opens, although It would be an amusing attraction to see people climbing through the window to sit in the driver’s seat, particularly young women, but not so much old men. Case in point – I had to pull my legs inside. I decided my old Corvette legs need recycling. It was quite the experience to sit in a Toyota that probably has no Toyota parts, and looks exactly like a Mustang and Camaro because they are all built exactly alike by regulation as spec racers. The roll cage structure is impressive, and seems to be just the ticket for survivable I-25 travel through downtown Denver.

Another fun thing I did at the Denver Auto Show was to take a demo ride in the new Volkswagen ID4 electric car. There was a nice, pretty girl driving the salmon course that was laid out on the showroom floor. I recommend you sell your Tesla stock if you have not done so already. The VW ID4 is less expensive, and a very well-developed vehicle at a lower price point. My last Uber ride in a Tesla was not pleasant due to the rough ride. The VW ID4 was smooth as silk with a high-quality interior. It is going to be a big seller.

If you have a spare $150K, you might want the Audi SUV, or, if you are still old school, the $150K Corvette will let you keep up with traffic on South Broadway. At the back of the auto show hall was home to the bitcoin specials like the new Rolls Royce and Maserati SUVs. Just the $325K ticket to go mudding with on Slumgullion Pass. By the way, who buys a car for the specific purpose of going “off-roading?” Does bumping over a curb count?

It seems to me that modern cars, particularly EV versions, are as much about the computers as they are the mechanical devices. This presents the owners with some new, unforeseen challenges. Do you realize that your new car can be stolen by taking out the head light? I presume some of the new headlights are computer controlled to allow automatic headlight diming, which means they are connected to the CAN buss.

The CAN buss (Controller Area Network) is a vital element in the design of modern cars. It is the highway for the digital traffic that allow signals to communicate to the various subsystems in the car, which can be as many as 70. Using old school direct wiring and switches would certainly be an impossible huge mess of wiring and relays. Like a highway, it has spurs that connect the off-highway destinations to the main thoroughfare. Once connected to the highway, you can travel to any destination if you know the route number for the turn off and have the permission to pass other cars.

Taking out the headlight gives the thief access to a CAN buss connector and with an illegal control box, the thief can operate the car as if he had a key. Open the doors, start the engine, and bye-bye! It occurs to me that this situation may also create the ultimate back seat driver. “Junior, I am turning off that noise that you call music, now pay attention to the road, or I will also turn off the automatic drive program!”

Hearing how easily your car may be stolen simply through the removal of the headlight, you may be wondering how to defeat a thief? A 30-30 is a messy option and fraught with problems. For my Bluebird 1962 Pontiac restomod, I used a hidden switch, which disconnects power to the fuel pump. You can grind away all you want on the starter; the car is not going anywhere. This is a very simple solution, and only leads to difficulty when I forget to turn it back on, or let a stranger drive it without them knowing about the switch.

A Brave New World is upon us…

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