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Delivery Driver Required. IMMEDIATE START…

11 Jun

Due to a SUDDEN BEREAVEMENT within our close-knit group of drivers, a vacancy exists for a DRIVER.

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH THE TRUCK AT ALL AND THE BRAKES WORK PERFECTLY IT HAS BEEN INSPECTED BY EVERYBODY AND NOTHING IS WRONG IT ALSO HAS A NEW DRIVERS SEAT AND WINDSHIELD.

If you would like to work for a boss who writes everything in CAPITAL LETTERS and is semi-literate but still feels it is necessary to micro-manage his secretary’s advertising copy then please give us a call.

The successful applicant will be HARD WORKING AND LOYAL AND 100% TRUSTWORTHY AND LOYAL. GOOD TEAMWORKER, PUNCTUAL AND NOT DRIVE LIKE A NUTTER.

Pay will be commensurate with experience. The successful candidate will be given a trial period of three weeks, after which they will probably turn down the job because it is very difficult for most people to get on with Dave who runs the company and his brother Mad Eric who services the trucks. Most people leave on day three.

YOU WILL BE HARD WORKING AND LOYAL AND USED TO HARD WORK. LOYALTY WILL BE REWARDED. YOU WILL BE PAID FAIRLY FOR A FULL DAY’S WORK.

Please contact Marjory (me) in the first instance on the number below.

046TRUCK

 

Is your new car watching over you?

14 Feb

001newcars

In the 1980’s, if Britain or the United States governments had declared that every citizen must report their personal whereabouts and also to whom they spoke, there would have been an understandable mass revolt and rioting in the streets.

Instead, we citizens were sold the mobile or ‘cell’ phone.

Lured by the promise of entertainment, technology and kudos, we rushed out and bought phones for ourselves and our children.

We bought the phones willingly. The needs of government were met.

It was all about information – being connected and being in communication. Being the first to know, the first to hear.

Twenty years later, we now understand how our cellphones pinpoint our position and our conversations and texts are widely and routinely intercepted and analysed ‘in the interests of National Security’.

Our billing information has been sold and resold a hundred times. British Police forces have sold personal details of car crash victims to ambulance-chasing insurance firms. Apparently, that is okay by us. Absolutely fine.

Since we are anxious to be seen as law-abiding citizens, we trade in our privacy in a way that was utterly unthinkable, even as recently as 1990. We ignore the outrageous  invasion of our privacy by Google, Microsoft and a million life insurance and healthcare agents who now own copies of all our private details.

Some of us actually help out by uploading our private life and photo album details to Facebook.

Next on the agenda of big business and world government: our car.

“…all citizens shall declare their car  journeys, itineraries, speeds attained and addresses visited…”

We are sold ‘infotainment’ and connectivity packages for our new car. We buy them, using our own money.

Intel put it perfectly in their press release:

“…Cars are gradually transitioning from an information isolated island to a mobile information processing platform…”

The statement is almost benign in its apparent casualness.

However, be not fooled. The parking camera package that you bought because you are too stupid to park your own car can now record the license plate of the car behind and in front.

One click of a switch at “Headquarters” and every driving citizen becomes an unmarked Police cruiser, fitted with Automated Number Plate Recognition.

Your three year old car already tells tales on you to its manufacturer. When you send it in to the dealer to have it serviced, you naively believe that the big red box it gets plugged into tells the mechanic what is wrong.

It doesn’t. It uploads data to the manufacturer, who then tells the mechanic what is wrong. The manufacturer now knows if you hit the rev limiter…while in sixth gear. How often the ABS has been activated today.

028rwtrafficYou naughty thing, you! Let us hope that the manufacturer doesn’t tell the Police, or you’d be in deep trouble. Or your insurance company. Or your leasing company. Or your boss, who is considering you for promotion.

Perhaps, having read this far into my post, you are inclined to believe that I am being a little paranoid? Well, it only takes one click and your car uploads its data. The only question that remains is: to whom? 

Your car is already programmed to transmit your speed. Your sat-nav already does so.

Governments around the world are waiting for your opinion. They like opinions. It saves them having to ask.

When will the switch be ‘clicked’?

Well, that really depends on how we citizens feel about it. This is the ‘Big One’. All our other information is already accessed by the State in most Western countries but our car is the last frontier. It has always given us the feeling of freedom.

If we citizens realise that our car is now no longer a source of freedom but instead just expensive transportation, we may decide to take a taxi instead. We may rebel and refuse to buy our next car.

So the trick is to make us want to buy our next car.

It won’t be hard. Governments have progressively increased taxation on older cars and manufacturers have raised the prices of key spares to the point where it becomes uneconomical to keep them working.

As consumers, we take the hint. We buy a new car. Besides, the new one comes with an ‘Infotainment Package’…

Slam dunk.002bankrobber

The bank robber of the future will strip you, tie you up in the trunk of your car, drive to the bank and rob it in your name.

They will walk back to the car and plug in a second-hand ECU under the hood. They will dial a police crime line with your phone, drop it in the gutter and then drive you out to the woods.

There, you will be reunited with your clothes and shoes and given your keys back and told to drive off. As you gratefully sit behind the wheel, the robber will shoot you in the head, put the gun in your hand, close the door and then walk away.

According to the medical records that your doctor sold to your insurance company without your knowledge, you were taking anti-depressants.

According to the Police, always anxious to solve crime, there is an awful lot of even stronger evidence.

CCTV footage shows a person of your height and wearing your clothes and shoes, with a mask. Your phone and your car were tracked across town to the bank. Your phone is found, soaking wet – so no fingerprints there – but its call records are examined. Later that day, you are found behind the wheel of your car by a kid walking his dog.

Why you did it and where you hid the money will remain a mystery. Your life insurance company refuses to pay out to your family.

Isn’t technology wonderful?

Millions of new cars remain unsold. Join the dots…

8 Feb

DSC00283roadwax

As more than 10 MILLION brand new cars join the ever increasing backlog of unsold stock across the World – four million cars in Europe alone – factory closures are now to become a reality.

Well-hidden and secure compounds across Europe, Asia and America are the usual first home for newly-born cars awaiting shipping to dealers. But these are now so full that dealers themselves are having to store cars in their already-packed yards.

The backlog of stored new cars in Europe now runs to four million. US sources point to a similar figure for America and things are so bad in China that Mercedes Benz are offering as much as 30% discount on some new models (S-Class, anyone?) as an attempt to shift stock.

No matter how politicians of all persuasions in all car-making countries try to dress it up, the fact is that production lines and whole factories now stand to be closed as a means of reducing output to match the drop in demand.

As Jorn Madslien’s BBC article here points out, the 7 – 10% annual drop in European demand since the Banking crisis of 2008 is set to continue through 2013 according to industry analysts.

There is no evidence to suggest that this trending reduction in demand will halt. Unemployment, static wages and financial insecurity continue to keep potential customers away from showrooms.021roadwax

What many ordinary people have overlooked in the last three years is the part that national politicians have played in this unfolding catastrophe.

Anxious to deflect criticism of themselves from voters already outraged at the corruption within the financial industry that has wrecked economic prospects, many political leaders have persuaded car giants to keep production at a steady level to avoid redundancies.

In the last three years, American car-making states have seen the quite shocking sight of trains loaded with brand new cars leaving the factories bound for the deserts – where the cars are simply off-loaded and parked up – as an alternative to laying off workers or reducing pay-packets.

Now, this temporary vote-buying strategy has resulted in such high levels of surplus vehicles that the need to close whole factories has replaced the idea of cutting the odd work shift. There is now no other option left.

Discounting of new car prices at dealership level is now rising into thousands of dollars. Some makes and models are almost dead in the water, effectively having so few interested potential buyers that they may as well not be offered.

Chrysler, for example, has more than six months worth of 2013 Dodge Darts parked up right now, as the Wall Street Journal’s article here reveals.

Six months worth of Dodge Darts. At what point does a ‘new’ car technically become an ‘old’ new car? Can a car that has sat out in the open for most of a year still be described as ‘new’? One can easily imagine the challenges that car manufacturers now face.

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But showroom price discounting – especially up to amounts like 30% – can wreak havoc with the residual value of that car’s marque. The prices of ‘nearly-new’ second-hand versions plummet at auction and fleet clients and Hire Purchase customers can become saddled with a kind of negative equity on their own vehicles. Fleet News made this point six months ago in their article here.

Some commercial vehicle manufacturers have been hit really hard as savvy fleet operators have held onto their trucks for an extra year or two to avoid this depreciation risk. One major truck maker sold zero units of its product in the UK in 2011 as regular clients simply sat tight.

General Motors has only now struggled back into profit in the US after years in the red with an unloved product range. Desperate for small cars it didn’t have, it hastily re-badged Asian Daewoo products, slapping a ‘Chevrolet’ badge on them and shipping them into America.

Now, it is watching as its twin European badges – Vauxhall and Opel – fight a desperate war to survive. It is abundantly clear that 7-10% over-capacity plus some ageing and inefficiently designed production facilities cannot be propped up at all cost.

roadwaxJeep 101

In this situation, the cost will be production line workers. There are no deserts in Europe to hide millions of unwanted cars.

The emerging giant economy of China fueled the revival of hopes in 2009 for top marques like BMW, Cadillac and Rolls Royce. Dying on their feet as Europe and America struggled with a banking collapse, these big names spearheaded a rush to satisfy Chinese auto sales volume growth of 46% in that year.

But by 2010 that figure had dropped to 32% and in early 2011 it slumped to 2.5%.

We are not supposed to use the word ‘problem’. The fashionable and politically correct word today is ‘challenge’.

The ‘problem’ is over-production of depreciating consumer goods.

The ‘challenge’ for today’s politicians is to find unemployed workers jobs that can generate their family a surplus income. Enough to buy yet more depreciating consumer goods and certainly more than enough to live on.

If today’s politicians actually have a solution to this challenge, then they are keeping very quiet about it.

 

Dorset road deaths are 7 times UK average, 17 times US.

26 Jan
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picture courtesy of Schneebremse

As Dorset Police have reduced the number of traffic officers patrolling the roads, deaths have increased in the UK county.

The Police cuts – applied in 2012 – have coincided with the number of road deaths increasing, reversing the previous trend. The BBC have uploaded an interesting article covering the story here.

Closer examination of the available data on the subject reveals that Dorset may have a far more serious road safety issue than has been reported or realised.

Using a selection of UK and  US government statistics, it can be shown that the county of Dorset actually has a road death toll that is seven times higher per mile than the UK average and is a stunning seventeen times higher than the rate for the United States.

And all this from a mostly rural county that has zero miles of motorway within it.

Roadwax recorded the rate of road deaths per day in comparison to the total miles of road in the county of Dorset. Then, this figure was compared with similar statistics for the whole of the UK and the whole of the US, using the most recent and accurate statistics available for comparison.

The results are shown in the table below.

2012.Dorset road death statsdocx

One issue that is raised by this research is how statistics and data can be shown in different ways to highlight particular arguments.

In this case, the simplest figures have been used and the mathematics is also straightforward. By dividing the number of road deaths into the number of miles of road across the area of Dorset, we get a factor – 1: 2,548.

That is: one road death for each 2,548 miles of road, per day.

If we then divide the miles of road available across the UK and also the US by this figure of 2,548 – we obtain the answers shown in the graph. We then compare the daily deaths recorded in the UK and US with Dorset.

If the answers in the graph are to be believed, then the county of Dorset has a serious road safety issue that needs to be examined urgently.

There is currently a lively and valuable debate being conducted over how road safety campaigns should be translated into actual positive results. You can read a range of localised views here and here. The debate extends nationally and is discussed in recognised road safety forums, such as this one.

But what data is being used to form opinions? Which figures should be used to make up arguments? Twice the fatality rate per mile might be seen as a high figure but seven times the national comparison is alarming.

And to be seventeen times more likely to be killed on a Dorset road than on an American road may provide an interesting starting point for the examination of exactly which road safety data figures are being given the most attention within the media today.

021rwmg

First UK motorist is taught to drive on snow and ice.

12 Jan
A typically devastating scene showing what can happen when snow falls on an English pub.

A typically devastating scene showing what can happen when snow falls on an English pub.

The BBC have released footage of a British driver secretly being taught how to drive on snow and ice. The footage lasts just a few seconds and is hidden within a normal news article.

This news has been greeted with horror by Britain’s biggest safety quango, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). Although its own website proudly claims to advise drivers on how to drive on snow, it is actually designed to discourage drivers from venturing out by simply re-posting the same dubious information that was printed in 1955.

RoSPA’s approach to the topic is simple. Load the driver down with so much cautionary advice on planning and multiple check-lists that they simply give up and stay indoors.

Even under the specific section ‘Driving on snow and ice’ – it doesn’t reveal any actual advice on how to drive on snow and ice beyond what is stated in the Police Driver’s Handbook. There is not a single mention of winter tyres, traction control, accelerator technique or gearbox control over-ride.

It instead assumes that you are immediately going to get stuck. Their finest advice is reproduced below:

“…move your vehicle slowly backwards and forwards out of the rut using the highest gear you can. If this doesn’t work, you may have to ask a friendly passerby for a push or get your shovel out…”

and the all-time classic:

“…slow down in plenty of time before bends and corners…”

What can easily happen if you don't "reduce your speed in plenty of time" as RoSPA advise...

What can easily happen if you don’t “reduce your speed in plenty of time” as RoSPA advise…

Roadwax sent special reporter Elena Handcart to ask RoSPA why they are fifty years out of touch with modern techniques for driving on snow and ice. Brian Loadsworth, head of Driver Thinking explained:

“The average British chappie is a little bit of a nuisance when it comes to driving a motor car on snow. We find it is far safer to try and keep him at home, checking his battery charge level and walking around trying to find a shop that will sell him a cavalry tweed car blanket.

The more ordinary people we can leave completely in the dark about snow driving techniques, the more space there is on the roads for bus drivers to pull over and cancel their journey. One really shouldn’t encourage this sort of foolhardy attitude among the workers”.

Thomas Schneebinder from the Stockholm Institute for Common Sense disagrees:

“When I was just six years old, my parents gave me my first Volvo. Like all other normal Swedish drivers, I learned to race old Saabs over packed ice by the time I was twelve. I am surprised that this knowledge is forbidden in Britain. Well done to the BBC for leaking it.”

DSC00026.roadwaxsnowJPG

A post box completely cut off by more than four inches of snow – typical of what Britain may have to endure for up to several days

Ford (USA) reveal “Back to the Future” version of European Transit

6 Dec

In a bold marketing move by Ford USA, described as “bold” by a panel of analysts who search for boldness in our world, Ford USA have released the first publicity shots of the T-Series/Transit van that will replace the historic E-Series/Econoline on the American continent.

Now, before I begin to ridicule the man on the far left of the photograph, let me point out that Ford are really putting their best brains forward on this project. How do you replace a van as iconic as the E-Series wth something totally new yet retain your customer loyalty?

Answer: You put a 1970’s retro grille on the front and you cross your fingers.

And you make the rest of the van look as much like a Mercedes Sprinter as you can without the Mercedes lawyers calling you up and saying:

“Now, you have made a mistake. A ferry, ferry bed mistake. Ve feel you hef not the full understandink of the word respekt.”

Okay, no cultural stereotyping here on Roadwax but you gotta love the German accent. It rocks.

Right. Now back to the man on the hard left of the picture.

Basically, the story is this.

Ingemar, the director of the photo shoot, doesn’t know squat about how people in warehouses work. But he’s pretty sure that somewhere along the scheme of things, an authority figure with a red clipboard and a hard hat has to shout and order people around.

So he employs an extra called Dave to stand there next to the shutter and shout and wave his hands as though he is in charge. In real life, Dave would keep well clear of the walls because he knows that ‘Blind Danny’ is about to return to the warehouse and collect some pallets, so standing next to a wall right now is not a good move.

In the foreground, to reinforce the fact that this is a parcel van that is being portrayed, Ingemar gets hold of an extra who looks like a parcel delivery driver.

Meet Remy. To compensate for the fact that Remy actually works as a damn good ballet dancer and doesn’t even hold a driving license (he cycles), Ingemar tells him to look exhausted and ignore the bloke who is shouting and waving his arms over by the shutter.

Remy was a little upset that the wardrobe department have mistakenly given him ill-fitting workwear but Ingmar just smiled and nodded his head with a knowing wink. Ingemar ordered the workwear himself and he (like us) knows about these things.

Although Ingemar has got an embarrassingly limited understanding of how the parcel industry actually works, he is highly skilled as a director of films depicting the violent collapse of the human condition. Ingemar just knows instinctively that a third character must be introduced to the picture to destabilize it and imply a note of menace.

Ingemar used this technique to great effect in “Twenty Steps to Trondheim” and “Death Is Thursday” which both won him awards at the 2012 Cannes Festival of Stuff Going Straight to DVD.

Cue Colin, far right.

Colin is an English nanny who works for Ingemar’s partner now that his US work visa has expired. Colin is cheap and reliable and does what Ingemar tells him to do.

So, Ingemar says:

‘Colin, I am feeling that you should be standing with a sack barrow in front of you. I think this works.”

Does Colin point out to Ingemar that this looks utterly stupid and removes the last shred of authenticity in the shot? That the entire warehouse is filled with palletised goods, none of which could be moved with a sack barrow?

You decide…

RoSPA shocked by how ordinary people actually live their lives.

24 Oct

I’ve got nine lives. You ain’t. Deal with it.

RoSPA has expressed shock and dismay that people drive while holding mobile phones.

The ninety year old veteran survivor of countless accidents and a couple of world wars was startled to discover that  people who drive cars through necessity often ignore common-sense advice on the use of mobile phones.

“It beggars belief!” said RoSPA, looking up from his newspaper while eating his breakfast and stroking the cat. “You’d think these people were quite unaware of the risks they were taking. I shall write an article about all this – you see if I don’t!”

Responding to Roadwax’s undercover reporter, RoSPA’s housekeeper and assistant, Verity Crash-Bangwallop, explained that RoSPA doesn’t get out much these days and is quite unaware that the practise has been going on for over twenty-five years.

“He normally gets upset when it comes up in the newspapers every now and then but he’s usually better by the time I bring him his lunch. Last Thursday, he became incandescent when I explained to him that bears are reluctant to use toilet facilities in woodland areas. I just locked myself in the Safety Room until he calmed down. He’s really very nice.”

The matter first came to light when RoSPA was informed by the local Community Support Officer that a youth had been spotted driving in the village while holding a mobile phone. RoSPA immediately wrote a letter to his local MP to highlight the shocking issue and asked the PCSO to keep him informed of any developments.

Local Independent MP Brian Loadsworth explained that RoSPA was quite unaware of the pressures upon normal members of society to receive and transmit data while driving.

“RoSPA is a nice old chap but his idea of driving is to gently ease into his old Mercedes 300TD and potter the half mile to the village shop to buy some matches for his Aga. He is quite unaware that some people spend many hours of the day driving while being pressurised by bosses and clients to provide them with time-sensitive information.”

“When I recently explained that some mothers need to contact child-minders to say that they were stuck in stationary traffic and would be late to pick up their child as a consequence, he was most resolute. He felt certain that this could be easily done while pulling over into a lay-by, switching the engine off and making the call whilst wearing a high visibility jacket at the side of the road. Fortunately, Verity brought us some lunch and the matter was dropped.”

With UK drivers currently being four times more likely to be involved in an accident when using a mobile phone while driving, pressure is on for the Police and also safety experts to find a solution.

A week long initiative by East Scrains Traffic Police to intercept drivers who were holding phones provided valuable results.

“We got our message across. You can’t drive with a mobile phone clamped to your ear. Not when one of our lads has just broken both your legs,” said Det. Insp Darren Shaft. “We usually get caught up in this nonsense debate about once a year. If we come down too hard then we lose the trust of the public. But we have to be seen to do something. We refer to it as “culling”. It ticks all the boxes and lets us get on with our real jobs.”

Dame Elizabeth Jobs-Agoodun from the road safety charity MENACE was more scathing.

“The threat of being sidelined by your boss for demanding that your car be supplied with the latest telecommunications equipment is no excuse. Working people should live within their means and ensure that they are perfectly educated in all aspects of the instruction manual provided with their leased vehicle. It really isn’t good enough.”

A simple and inexpensive campaign suggested by Roadwax to provide cheap Bluetooth hands-free kits to all motorists for the same price as a Cornish Pasty was launched today.

Det Insp Darren Shaft was not convinced.

“So, where did you get hold of all these then? Let’s ‘ave a look in the back of your van. Hands where I can see them…”

Cyber-casing: Did you just Geo-tag your car keys to a criminal?

10 Jul

She ‘likes’ Audi on Facebook. She uploaded the name of the cafe she is currently in to Twitter. The keys are in her bag, by her feet. Her phone is visible on Bluetooth.

Criminals are increasingly focusing their efforts upon those people who upload valuable data to social networking sites.

“Cybercasing”  is the term used to describe the process by which a criminal can anonymously monitor a potential victim by watching as they sequentially upload valuable data about their possessions and their current geographical location.

A Simple Example:

Facebook Status Update: “A picture of me and my new Audi at the dealer franchise in Dallas!”

then, two days later…

Twitter Update: ” In Rocky’s Bar, Dallas with Kim. Come and join us!” – sent via iPhone App

The criminal already knows what you look like (you posted your beautiful face on Facebook, didn’t you?) and you told them what you drive. They now know your precise location (you just uploaded a helpful map to Twitter using your iPhone, didn’t you?) and that you are relaxing in a cafe bar.

Just as the Darwin Awards were invented in the 1990’s to honor those who killed themselves through their own stupidity, so time may be running out for those who openly advertise their valuable possessions and their geographical whereabouts to 900 million complete strangers.

Insurance companies already refuse to pay out on theft claims from people who have left their keys in their car’s ignition…only to find that some absolute cad has slipped behind the wheel and selected “Drive” while they were chatting to the postman or getting something from the house.

It makes sense to assume that it will not be long before the insurance industry takes a dim view of those who sequentially reveal information to strangers about their identity, location, their valuables and where to find the keys.

Most police forces, just like professional criminals, make full use of un- encrypted cell phone messages and social networking sites to hunt down their prey. In the case of the Police, they are usually trying to intercept a particular person but criminals are interested in knowing where someone is  for the opposite reason: if the person is at the beach, then they aren’t at home. If they drove into town then their keys are certainly with them. If they are out celebrating with friends then they may not be on their guard.

Professional athletes have known for some years that their houses are most likely to suffer a break-in while they are away competing or playing their sport. Everybody who follows sport knows where they are going to be at a certain time on a certain day.

But it seems to be a lesson not yet learned by the average person that Social Media reveals their own movements and plans just as clearly if they openly publicize their social interests, hobbies, friend network and current location.

Love motorbikes? Of course you do. Particularly Harleys. You have a profile of yourself on the Harley-Lovers Site. You post on the forum. You uploaded a picture of your pride and joy. It is one of the rare ones, very desirable. There’s you, in the picture, next to it. You even got three “likes” for the picture. Fantastic bike. Way to go!

Then, you  bought some rare enamel Harley badges on e-Bay. Real bargain! The guy posted them to you sameday. Top seller. Great guy.

That’s right.

You just gave your full address to a complete stranger who now knows exactly where you live.

What’s that you say on Facebook? You and your partner have got tickets to see Radiohead play and you’re in ecstacy ‘cos its her turn to drive?

Excellent.

You will be away from home for at least six hours.

The wireless alarm box will act dumb once I climb my ladder, unscrew the cover and remove the back-up battery. A suction-pad glass cutter on the back door will stop the neighbors hearing anything. Your fuse box is exactly where I expect it to be.

The Harley is in the garage and the keys will be in the drawer in the kitchen.  You have a dog? Nope. You used to.

You can keep the ladder. It wasn’t mine, anyway.

It is becoming ever more crucial that people understand that it is not cool to upload information to websites that can identify and link you like the cross-hairs in a sniper’s gun.

If you value your folk and your possessions, keep it private. Think carefully about whether it is a good idea to keep the same  username across different websites.

Be sociable but always be smart.

Honey, would you park up my P-51D Mustang and help me with the shopping…?

25 May

Ikea, here we come…!

Summer has arrived and Roadwax wants to feed you with a funny little anecdote that is both utterly stupid and completely true. You won’t easily believe this story, but there is an awful lot of written evidence that supports it.

First, I must transport you back to 1945 and England, Europe. To help you get into the atmosphere of those times, I suggest that before you continue reading, you complete the following simple tasks so that you get into the mood for what follows.

Firstly, take everything out of your refrigerator and let it warm up on the kitchen table. Cover yourself in subway dust and comb low-fat spread through your hair. Rub a mixture of cheese and brown paint over your teeth and put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea…

Now, we can begin.

The war against Hitler had just ended. Germany and England lay in smoking ruins and France looked like it had accidentally posted it’s home address on Facebook and invited everyone round for a free Jack Daniels tasting session.

Without wasting a moment of time, English town planners sat around a big mahogany table and came up with ideas for how England would rebuild itself. This was not very difficult to start off, since almost everyone had been issued with a pair of Army boots and there were also an awful lot of half-bricks lying around.

A plan to build this “New England” emerged pretty quickly. All the obvious and sensible stuff was done first. A free National Health Service was set up to stop the working population from lynching the ruling elite. The State School system was encouraged to educate children with the skills needed for industry rather than simply beating them to within an inch of their lives for forgetting the second verse of that hit song: “God Save The King”.

But then it started to get wacky and kooky. Possibly because there was too much sugar in the biscuits during afternoon tea, the ideas began to reflect some pretty startling visions of a future world of mass high-speed travel.

It was decided that each major town in England should set aside space for a Municipal Aerodrome and prepare to welcome society arriving from the air.

Why?

Because the war had resulted in fantastic advances in flight, aeronautical technology and manufacturing techniques!

So what?

Well, if you remove the eight Browning machine guns from a Hawker Hurricane, you get a rather dashing little conveyance for the weekend! The Spitfire is ideal for visiting the seaside once you nail another seat inside. The American P-51D is a “must-have” toy for the Gentleman Sportsman or weekend enthusiast.

But…we already have cars to drive in…! Isn’t this a bit excessive?

Not at all. In the “New England”, men in pin-stripe suits and bowler hats will be so busy making important decisions that they shall need to rush from meeting to meeting, unhindered by the common man in his 1933 12 BHP Austin. Each town shall build an aerodrome, right next to the shops and the golf course!

Are you sure about this?

Absolutely! And stand up straight when you salute me…and straighten your tie!

(And so it was that throughout England, the Town Plans that were drawn up in the period 1944-1946 show provision for “municipal aerodromes” – built to cater for the many light aircraft that the many English middle class shakers and movers would soon own and fly. Provision was made for what would become, without doubt, the fast-moving new world where society’s decision-makers would transport themselves in one of these new, easily-affordable light aeroplanes as a matter of daily routine).

Once the town planners across England had set aside the necessary fields and used their best wooden rulers to draw a runway and a   small car park where chauffeurs could polish the Bentley and stand in deference, a strange thing happened.

Maybe it was because the Automobile Association of Great Britain pointed out that they already spent far too much of their time  pouring gasoline into the tanks of stranded cars whose owners were too dumb to read a map or understand a simple fuel gauge…

Maybe it was because the Police pointed to the number of dented or missing railings and lamp posts on the road that led away from the local golf course club-house…

Maybe it was because it was remembered how, during the war, many bombers had taken off and then crashed within the first minute because their pilots had been so drunk that they were incapable of standing, let alone focusing on an instrument panel…

…but it was decided to quietly drop these plans.

Our “Brave New World” would be a much safer one if we pin-heads were instead firmly anchored to the ground with four rubber tyres and given a shiny chrome grille where the propeller would otherwise be. As a compromise, American cars were given tail-fins.  British cars were given tail-feathers.

And nothing more was said about this brilliant idea to allow everyone to just hop in a plane and fly to the shops in the next town. Those among us who actually had the intellect and reaction speed to fly an aircraft were sold a Cessna or a Beachcraft Bonanza. The rest of us would learn to say the words “Business Class” and “check-in queue”. The town planners erased all their pencil lines and the ‘aerodromes’ were no more.

But many of the original plans are still there on the dusty shelves of local councils and occasionally can be found hiding in old book shops.

Testimony to a brief moment in society’s evolution where, in an act of delightfully misjudged lunacy, we were all to be offered our own pair of wings.

Ford USA announce “American Psycho” Edition of European Transit Van Model.

14 May

In one of the most complex and garbled series of press releases by any major manufacturer in recent years, Ford (USA) and Ford (UK) and Ford (Europe) have just announced their van model line-up for 2013.

After almost 50 years, America is finally going to receive Europe’s massively popular ‘Ford Transit’.

That is the European Ford Transit.

No – not the small, car-like van that is sold by Ford to Americans as the ‘Transit’. That is in fact the Transit Connect. It was called the Transit Connect partly because in Europe it ‘connects’ with the smallest version of its big brother – the Transit – when in it’s largest form, being, if you like, the smaller brother of the European ‘Transit’ range.

But, because Americans have never had the ‘Transit’ range in the first place, the significance of the appendage ‘Connect’ is kind of lost on them. They have the ‘Econoline’ series instead. So, Americans tend to refer to the Transit Connect as simply the Transit. Which makes perfect sense. Up until now.

But the water has been muddied even further by Ford (Europe) coincidentally announcing a so-called “2013 Transit” which is not actually the 2013 Transit that America is going to get. It is something quite separate as a model. Even though it may be sold in America from 2013 onward as well.

If you are currently holding your head in your hands because you cannot make sense of Ford’s Worldwide van line-up, fear not.

Roadwax is here to help you and to share your pain and try to explain.

It is all quite simple really. The marketing departments of Ford (USA) and Ford (Europe) seem to have temporarily screwed up their sequence of model identifiers. It happens, from time to time, as model ranges evolve  in different sales territories.

Whereas motor manufacturers normally allocate model names to allow customers to differentiate between different models across a product range, Ford have temporarily reversed this procedure. They have just re-named all their different models with the same damned name.

Ford (Europe) has just announced the “2013 Ford Transit” in Europe. However, Ford show a photograph of a brand new medium-sized van that bears no relation to either their existing Ford Transit, the Transit Connect or the American E-Series. It is yet another new stand-alone product. It looks suspiciously like a Volkswagen Transporter.

So, this vehicle that Ford (Europe) have announced as the “2013 Ford Transit” is not actually the 2013 Ford Transit. It is a completely separate model from any other Ford product, with its own unique body shell and dimensions. It is specifically intended to attract builders, plumbers and hotel courtesy bus drivers, all of whom have recently migrated to VW because the current Transit now looks boring, style-less and under-powered by comparison.

But in North America, the ageing ‘Econoline’ series is about to be replaced by the European Ford Transit. So, unless somebody at Ford jumps in quick (and I’m sure they will) the “2013 Ford ‘Transit” will be sold in America alongside the ‘Ford ‘Transit’ and the Ford ‘Transit’. And in Europe, the 2013 ‘Transit’ will sit in the model range right between the existing ‘Transit Connect’ and the existing ‘Transit’.

Confused?

Here is a quick history lesson with easy to understand pictures and explanations. It will help us all unravel the truth.

We begin our story in 1964. The American economy was booming. Britain was just a few years behind, still recovering from the devastation of war-time bombing, breaking out of post-war austerity and only just learning how to have a good time.

This is the van that started it all. This is the Ford (USA) Ford Econoline.

This is the van that every small business used in the 1960’s in America. Although astonishingly badly engineered by today’s standards, it was a giant leap forward for the world of light commercial vehicles at the time and light-years ahead of anything else available, anywhere in the world. It was an outstanding commercial success, right from the day of its launch.

Ford (USA) were so delighted with its sales success that they called up Ford (UK) on the telephone. The conversation went something like this…

Ford (USA): “Get ready to rock, you skinny bunch of lime-soaked half-wits!! The ‘Econoline’ is coming to the UK! You guys can build it and sell it all across Europe!’

Ford (UK): ‘You must be mad. Go away. Besides, we are too busy trying to pull our Ford Thames out of the hedge at the end of the driveway and we haven’t got time to play silly games. ‘

 A 1963 British Ford Thames. It survived because nobody tried to drive it.

Ford (USA): ‘No – listen! This Econoline is the solution to all your problems with your Ford Thames! The Econoline actually turns corners when you pull on the steering wheel! Its a major step forward in driver safety!’

Ford (UK): ‘Driver what...? Look, can you send us some more rope? We’ve just snapped our last bit. ‘

Ford (USA): ‘That’s what we are trying to explain, you schmucks! Your booming consumer economy needs a real van! One that can actually carry more than a bag of spanners without grounding. A van with room on the inside so you can carry  lots and lots of boxes!’

Ford(UK): ‘We put the boxes on the roof if they don’t fit inside. No thanks.’

Ford (USA): ‘Oh, yeah…? And where exactly are the boxes you put on the roof-rack of your Thames?’

Ford (UK): ‘They are scattered across a potato field. Look, stop rubbing it in and send us some more bloody rope…!’

Ford (USA): ‘Nope. We’re gonna send you an Econoline and you are going to evaluate it and then build it.’

(Ford USA  sent an Econoline in a crate to Ford  UK. A few weeks went by and nothing was heard. Eventually, Ford USA telephoned England to find out how things were going).

Ford (USA): ‘Well, whaddya think of the Econoline? Great, ain’t she…?’

Ford (UK): ‘It is stuck in the potato field at the end of the driveway. Can you send us some really, really strong rope?’

Ford (USA): Damn. How did you manage to get it stuck there?’

Ford (UK): I don’t know. All I remember was touching the gas pedal and then there was this huge roar. My false teeth got sucked down my throat and everything that had previously been in front and a long way away came rushing towards me really fast and ended up behind me.’

Ford (USA): Why didn’t you brake?’

Ford (UK): ‘I thought the hedge would do that for me. This Econoline seems to be a tad heavier than the Thames. The plan sort of fell apart…’

Ford (USA): ‘So, you like it, yeah…?’

Ford (UK): ‘It is totally unsuitable for the British market. We have decided to build our very own van. We are going to call it the ‘Transit’. It will have the ride and handling of a typical British car. It will turn corners and have an engine that barely develops enough power to pull the skin off a rice pudding. That way, our world will be safe again.’

Ford (USA): ‘Transit, eh…? Hmm…the name will never catch on. You need something more sexy. How about “F-Series”?’

Ford (UK): ‘That is both rude and disrespectful to the Queen, sir. Women would lose their moral values and society would end. No – “Transit” is a nice, sensible name. Also, we are going to put the engine behind the front axle but in front of the driver so that the weight distribution allows for a thing called “handling”.

 1965. The Ford Transit. A legend is born.

Ford (USA): ‘ “Handling”? What is that? We don’t have handling in America. Is it some kind of cheese?’

Ford (UK): ‘We just invented it. “Handling” is the means by which vans can be kept separate from hedges and potato fields.’

(The years passed and the Ford Transit became legendary as the prime mover of goods across all Europe.)

 A 1970 Transit with a new and sexy grille.

 A 1980 Ford Transit with an even sexier grille.

 A 1990’s Transit with an un-sexy “Smiley-Face” grille.

 A 2005 Transit with ‘can’t be bothered to try’ grille

  A 2010 Transit with the ‘stolen from a VW Crafter’ grille.

Meanwhile, Ford America dropped the word ‘Econoline’ because it sounded cheap and created the  ‘E-Series’. Everyone still referred to it as the ‘Econoline’ and so Ford said “Ah…what the Hell…” and called it both.

Every van driver in Britain wanted one but Ford remembered the incident with the Econoline and the potato field and decided it was not a good idea. Also, it was calculated that just six Ford E-Series vans would consume more gasoline within three hours than Britain could import in a week.

 A Ford Econoline. Big, powerful and utterly pornographic.

(The decades passed, a few wars happened and then one day, Ford (USA) emailed Ford (UK) to see how things were going).

Hi, Ford UK!

We just got a Facebook page and it is really cool! Why don’t you pop over and “like” us? 🙂 FordUSA.com

Hi Ford USA!

That’s really clever! How do you do that round yellow face thing? Rgds, Ford (UK) Ltd.

Hi Ford UK!

Hope you are well. We can’t be assed to re-design the E-Series. Can we steal your Transit design? 🙂 FordUSA.com

Hi Ford USA!

Sure, no probs. Have emailed you a picture of it!

Hope you like it!  :-*+)) Ford (UK) Ltd.

Hi Ford UK!

WTF is THAT!!!??? OMG. It looks like  a Volkswagen Transporter got hit by a badger. Totally gross front end, man.

Hi Ford USA!

It is our 2013 Ford Transit! You said you wanted one! Oh – by the way – how do you do the face with the smile thing?

Hi Ford UK!

F*** the smiley face. Where is your Ford Transit? The REAL Transit ? 😦 You’ve had it since 1965, ferrchrissakes???

Hi Ford USA!

Oh. That one. That is as tired out as a hooker on Sunday. We can’t even sell them to builders. Take it if you want it. PS How do you do that sad face thing? Rgds, Ford (UK) Ltd *–P

Hi Ford UK!

Thanks! Hey – guess what we have done to your Ford Transit!!! 😀

Hi Ford USA!

What – the one that looks like a Volkswagen? 🙂

Hi Ford UK!

No – stop going on about THAT one. It is just getting everybody confused. Its just a goddamn VW with a Ford badge. 😛

Hi Ford USA!

Oh. We spent all night staying up and trying to make it look good. Sorry you don’t like it. 😦

Hi Ford UK!

LMFAO! It looks pants. Anyway – check this out, dude. Look what we’ve done to your old European Transit! Twin Turbo!!! V6!!! 😀   😀   😀

Next Gen Ford Transit Ecoboost Outline

Hi Ford USA!

You can’t be serious…that is….OBSCENE!!!!  By the way, what does “LMFAO” mean?

Hi Ford UK!

Hahahahahahahaaha….! F**k you.

That’s right, folks!

Ford of America have gone and stuffed a 350 BHP twin-turbo gasoline V6 into Ford Europe’s ageing ‘Transit’! This psychotic, tyre-burning monstrosity of a van will now replace their home-grown Econoline range.

And, no….we Brits will not be allowed to own one in case we hurt ourselves. Instead, we will be persuaded to buy Ford’s new VW  Transporter look-alike or else plod on with our 90 BHP or 130 BHP versions that are already well past their sell-by date.

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