Auto Industry News: Mini Rat Rod, Best Picks, and Rotten Tomatoes

This week’s auto industry news is all about making the most of what you have. Though many call it frugal, some of us prefer words like thrifty and imaginative. Give me some old windows, and I’ll turn them into a green house. A broken pallet is “upcycling” at its finest. I’ll cruise side streets looking for discarded storage bins that admittedly have seen better days, but are easily repurposed as garden planters after a fresh coat of spray paint. Hideous cushions that Granny wouldn’t rest her bum on? No problem. Reupholstery is a great way to jazz up “the tired, the old, and the rather unsightly.” While the majority see junk, a few of us detect treasure.

A Small Diesel With Alotta Smoke

Therefore, it’s really not a far stretch to understand why a so-ugly-it’s-purty rat rod lands first on this week’s auto industry news. There’s just something about an ultra rare barn find like a 1952 Cunningham C-3, an insane engine swap, or a really creative build on a budget that gets you excited. And man, it’s like Christmas morning when I come across a gem that checks most, if not all, the boxes. Meet the Diesel Weasel Mow-Kart. Though circulating for awhile now, we’re surprised just how many people haven’t crossed paths with it. This rusty-but-trusty 1960s Viking mini-mower features a classic combination of stock parts, an ultimate body born from a cut-down wheelbarrow, recovered “banquet” seating, and a super fab diesel swap that hauls ass at a top speed of 50 mph.

“I love the idea of a rat rod, but it’s brutally impossible to try getting one legal in Canada – it happens, but you kinda got to run through some legal loopholes and cheat a little. I realize that a fullsize rat rod is not in the cards for me right now, but there’s nothing that says I can’t build a small-scale one!” said Canadian Chris “Doc” Smith. THIS mini build is on the radar of any Tim “The Toolman” Taylor fan.

“Best Picks”

But hey, old-as-the-revamped new isn’t for everyone. Some prefer pedal to the metal right off the car lot. And for those, Popular Mechanics bestowed a few ego-stroking awards just in time for this week’s auto industry news. Among them, the Ford Raptor took “Truck of the Year”,  while the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz  was, well, all the buzz and snagged “Concept Car of the Year”. Mazda 6 was a home run for “Sedan of the Year” and its Italian mistress, the Alpha Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, was proudly dubbed “Super Sedan of the Year”. But—are you ready for this—the Chevrolet BOLT was honored with the title of “Car of the Year”. Yep, this is where traditionalists practice restraint and do the required PC act of smiling obnoxiously while clapping violently for the winner. Grin and bear, my friends. The electric/autonomous movement is just getting started, so just grin and bear.

And the Rotten Tomatoes Award Goes To…

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t watch award shows to see which dud will collect a trophy. No… it’s far more fun to sit back with a beer (or two or three) and a tub of buttery popcorn to eyeball the red carpet extravaganza and the priceless reactions of the losers whose names aren’t called. Not even the best production team in the world can fully sensor the split second body language and facial expressions on live television.

Similarly, “Once it’s all said and done, Americans will have bought well over 17 million new cars, trucks, and SUVs in 2016. A little over 800,000 of those will be Ford F-Series pickup trucks,” said Autoblog. But 2016 had its fair share of auto duds. A special treat for this week’s auto industry news, here is the short list of manufacturer names not called at the award ceremony this year.

The Acura ILX series dropped 19 percent in sales and the flagship RLX plummeted over 35 percent. German BMW saw over a 30 percent dip in its 3 Series and a 20 percent slide with the 4 Series, as compared to 2015 data. The Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 are being put to pasture and don’t get us started on Lexus or the Fiat 500/500L. Do yourself an enormous favor and make sure to check the car stats before purchasing. You don’t want to fall victim to the Rotten Tomatoes Award!

Need for Speed

And if a need for speed is more your pace then this week was jam packed with action. For the second time this season, Red Bull Racing clocked the fastest pit stop. Mr. Jimmie Johnson extended his track record with an 11th win at Dover International Speedway, moving into a tie for sixth on the career victories list. And Aurimas Bakchis (Odi) stole a Round 4 Formula D win at Wall, NJ. An exciting week in auto industry news, indeed!

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