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About davek

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    Great Falls,Montana/ Prattville,Alabama USA
  1. I figured that if anyone would know where and what happened to this design, it would be this forum group. I'm still trying to decide if it has more Jeep influence in it's design or if a sole lonely Smart car had one night stand with a Scion xB. This would be a nice secondary body type for the US market, possibly more attractive to the SUV cross-over market?... I find it frustrating that the majority of the concept cars I find appealing are never brought to the sales floor.
  2. http://images.worldcarfans.com/photos/3050...006/1040big.jpg Someone posted this on the Escapees forum, this is the first time I've seen this concept car. Kind of looks a mini version of a Jeep Rescue concept from a few years back, I bet this would have been very popular in the States under the Jeep badge as the urban commuter CJ-2
  3. I just picked up a '93 Geo Prism (rebadged Toyota Corolla) yesterday for $800.00 with new tires, paint, factory toyota replacement engine. It had a minor wreck a few years back, but not even enough to distort sheetmetal, (rear bumper replacement only). The car has had only one owner since new, and all records of maintenance were included, including documented oil changes!!! I've never seen a compact car this old that is this clean. Not exactly what I had in mind, but who cares for what we have in it. If it holds together for 6 months without major work, I'm happy. I'm still looking for a Cooper, but there is now time to find a nice one at least with no pressure. Thanks for the inputs.
  4. Thanks CC, happy B-day by the way. I just got off the phone whith Turky's. http://www.turkys.com/mini.html Very friendly, and a pleasure to talk to. This is most likely going to put me in the dog house for a few weeks, but I've been searching for a reasonable priced and roadworthy mini for years. I'm looking at the tobacco colored mini, looks like a fun ride.
  5. The Zuk's are at the top of my list from prior experience as well, mainly from superbikes I've owned. I'm not concerned with ATF with a Smart since it will be brand new, untouched and under warranty . My main reservation with any automatic is when it is used and a less than responsible prior owner has neglected changing fluids and filters in the transmission, (usually never touched until something goes wrong). Personally, I haven't pressed my luck with ATF or hydraulic fluid since I was admitted to the ER in '02, its one of the reasons I quit wrenching for a living. It's just not worth it for a set of wheels.
  6. I need to find a dispoable commuter car to get through the next year until Smart starts bringing the 2nd generations to our market. I'm not going to sink alot of money into something I know I want to ditch as soon as the Fortwo's hit the market so I'm not against a mechanics special, so long as there is SOME life left in the poor thing. I'd like to find something like an older Geo Metro 3 cylinder, but can't find anything that resembles anything but a basket case around here. If anyone knows of a good source for used micro cars, I'd be grateful. If I could find a real fun classic like a classic Cooper, I'd be willing to put out some real money, but otherwise, I'm keeping the budget at $4,000.00 or under. Preferably WAY under. I refuse to finance anything unless it is a Smart, we don't want to screw that up whatsoever. We've waited too long to give up on one now. So, any suggestions on any brands or models that might have escaped me? A 3 door hatchback would be ideal, hence the Geo Metro type bodystyle. Honda's and Toyotas are just too popular and too good of a car when I only need to drive 18 miles a day round trip at the most. Nissan's are forbidden in our house along with their sister Infiniti cars due to prior mechanics days. 2 seats are all we need since my son will never be riding in it. Possible considerations we've had so far are: Geo metro/Suzuki Swift/Pontiac Firefly (not really interested in the newer Chevy Metro's) Ford Aspire Suzuki X-90/Sidekick (to make a camping/off road toy out of later) VW Diesel rabbit/Golf (if there is any chance of finding one reasonably priced still useable) The only option it MUST have is: 1.manual transmission (I can't touch ATF anymore, highly allergic, can't repair an auto because of it) Preferably with: 1.A/C (which if it ends up fall before I find one is workable) 2.Hatchback (3 or 5 door so long as its MPG friendly)
  7. Same principle as the 5 gallon bucket idea I mentioned, except 5 gallon buckets aren't out of stock
  8. Come see me in Montgomery around august, We'll see how environmental we are feeling when there's an infant in the car with us. As I said, in the spring and fall, I think it's a great feature. The cooldown time in Montgomery in the average vehicle around August in most vehicles is 10 minutes or so, if the car keeps cycling on and off, the A/C's evap and condensor will not be able to get the gas exchange to become fully efficient. I'll drive less to compensate for my fuel useage if I have to, but I'm not going without A/C in this sweat pit region of the country.
  9. In a hybrid, the A/C will still work whether the cobustion engine is running or not. With the Smart's idle reduction system, I am trying to figure out how the A/C compressor is supposed to continue turning if the engine shuts off, along with the heater's water flow needed for the heater core to stay hot in the winter time. In a climate like Montgomery, AL, I refuse to go without full power A/C in the summertime. Forget the fuel savings, I'm not going to sit and roast at a traffic light in 105 degree heat at 70% humidity. In the spring and/or fall, I can see this feature being a real energy saver with no ill effects. A 20 second stall start isn't bad, but in heavy traffic, I sit idle for a few minutes at a time. Frustrating, because it is a waste of fuel to sit idle, but I can't deal with the heat down here in the summer months, I've ended up in the hospital with heat exhaustion 2 times already. Getting into a car that has as much glass as a Smart does is like being in a glass faced greenhouse for the first 10 minutes, even with the windows down I recall the Prius we test drove last year having no HVAC issues when the car went "dormant", so I'm imagining the A/C is powered off the electric drive side of the hybrid. I never really bothered to learn how it worked, it was a Toyota, so that's all I needed to know. Finding a Prius in this area for sale is the only hard part about owning one.
  10. Dennis, That was exactly what I was about to suggest to you, smart thinker you are Another option is to use a shop vac with it's hose fed into an airtight hole in the lid of a sealed 5 gallon bucket, Drill another hole in the lid and feed a long piece of clear vinyl tubing into the hole, about 1/2 way to its bottom or more. As the vacuum creates suction in the bucket, it will allow the vinyl tube to pull the oil out of the engine. Since the shop vac hose is just inside the bucket's lid area, the oil will collect at the base of the bucket and not contaminate the shop vac. If you have ever seen a mity vac brake bleeding kit, this is pretty much a grown up version of the mity vac. It work great for all types of fluid transfers that you can't just let gravity drain. I use it to clean out power steering pump reservoirs, automatic transmissions through their dip stick tubes so the pan doesn't slop fluid all over the place when its removed etc. I got the idea from the mity vac system and a cheap little drywall dust collection bucket I saw at Home Depot years back. The best part is the bucket can be plugged and used to transfer the oil to a waste center with no further transferring of oil which can make a very big mess. An angled rubber plug stopper with a hose drilled and inserted into its center makes a great adapter for fitting various filler neck tubes on engines/trannies. Hope this helps if the drill pump doesn't create enough suction for you. I've pulled oil up 5 feet with this setup, even gear oil. Total cost is less than $10.00 for the bucket and length of clear vinyl hose, provided you own a vacuum cleaner of some sorts. A shop vac is preferred due to its higher suction, but a regular household upright vacuum can do it, just a little slower usually. If you really want to get fancy with this, you can use PVC pipe and a few threaded bungs to make the lid a perfect seal. It will make transport alot less risky of any possible leak/drips. I am surprised no one has marketed this, maybe its just too simple to build. If you need a visual, I can take a pic next time I build another one, I broke the lid on the last one when I dropped a hammer on it. DOOPE!!!!!!!!!!
  11. I go to Muniche once a year to visit family, the travel part is not that exciting. My reasons for doing it are for self diagnostic and getting enough experience to help the 1st gen owners out, not to mention myself when/if we get back up north and find a CDI model of our own. The gas models don't do a thing for me, the real ticket for me is the CDI, period. A car is a car, I've worked on numerous models, its not a a glorious career path unless you work for yourself, even as a team leader of a service team dealer that sold 2 of the "big 3" detroit names, it is still not enough money for me to do it for long term. Stick with computers and white collar work, the automotive industry is changing and advancing too fast to trust its future as a technician right now. The first link you sent of the Obvio is another ZAP import ticket to disaster. I wouldn't go near that thing if it was given to me. Nothing against the car, I just refuse to let ZAP profit any way from me. If the car is imported by someone else with a reputable and well established dealer network, that's a different story. Too much negative vibes around ZAP to ever trust them with something as vital as personal transportation. Trendy statements are one thing, but when you're staring at a 2,000 to 4,000 lb lawn ornament that won't start up to take you work, the image factor wears off real quick. The rest of the cars you posted links of have been in Europe for year in one form or another. Renault is known for building soapbox racer sized cars. NONE of them compare with the quality of the Smart or its safety features. The Smart is in a class of its own safety wise. The upright seating position and Tridion cell sets it far above the microcar class it is being thrown in with. There are several crash tests on the net for the Smart, which have yet to be duplicated by other manufacturers with the same structural integrity results. The Jersey barrier frontal impact test is a true testament to why the Smart is the trendsetter for subcompact cars worldwide. I can't find it off hand, but I'm sure others will pipe in with the links to it.
  12. Very good points, but real the question is whether they will be allowed by contract to even let them register the car with the service writer. MAYBE if the 1st genereation car in question has originated from Canada, which were blessed by Mercedes. You have to remember, Mercedes has a double edged sword by supporting the 1st generation cars, yes they are their cars by namesake, but they will be a nightmare for their tech's service if something doesn't go right while its in their hands. I've seen plenty of customers try to blame the shops I worked for in the past for things that were existing problems BEFORE we ever touched it. Out of sheer customer service, we usually attempted to make it right somehow with them, but if we could not get parts to correct the issue, we then had a car in pieces with no way to return it to functional condition again. Since the engines are a whole new design along with the complete car, I have doubts that parts interchange will be very likely. You may be better off visiting a completely unrelated shop, since they will be looking at it as an off brand service request. Until the 2nd gen's are released and parts/components are compared, I would not hold your breathe on the hope of compatible windshielf wipers even. Mercedes/Penske may take the stand that the don't want ANY service departments working on the cars because then their dealers who don't want to deal with the 1st gen's will be getting grief for not taking the same stand as another dealer. (will you be able to approach a Smart tech and ask for off location moonlighting work?.. I can bet that's a guaranteed yes, I used to do it just help out our customers and keep the service dept from looking like a bad guy. This was usually when the car was an off brand or had some non dealer supported alterations to it like lowering kits etc.) Don't get discouraged by this, just don't EXPECT your service whoa's to be over the minute the Smart dealers open their doors.
  13. make no mistake, the MIsubishi powered Smart 2nd generation is NOT an exciting prospect for me. I am still stuck on the idea of a diesel powered Smart. Going by past experience with Mitsubishi/Daimler joint venture vehicles, I think your Scion is a much better choice over the both Smart cars if you have a need to hand the keys to a mechanic. I've put more head gaskets on Mitsubishi engines than any other brand vehicle, with the possible exception of first series Hyundai cars and Nissans. Mitsubishi has not struck me as a long term ownership kind of car manufacturer, but I'm going to very hesistantly give them a chance with the new Smart car. WIth any hope, Mercedes has stood over Mitsubishi and babysat the developement of the 2nd gen's engine. I can't imagine Mercedes allowing failure to be an option with all the other political and support problems they've faced with this little car In alot of ways, I feel the Smart is a modernized version of Ferdinand Porcshe's air cooled Beetle. Both vehicles have/had a strong cult following supporting their success. The mentality that they evolved from is very similar, just at different levels. Hopefully the Smart is already past its growing pains period that plagued the VW for many years. I've talked to the local mercedes/porsche dealer and heard they applied to be put on the list for dealership approval, pending a seperate sales lot, which is just a remodeling job away. If they pickup the Smart Penske contract, I will be applying for work as a Smart mechanic. I believe in the car's design, I believe in the philosophy behind its creation. It's alot more than just a "glorified golf cart" to me, I WANT the car to succeed on many levels. Watching ZAP crash and burn while Mercedes steps up to make the introduction as positive as possible is a huge positive for it. I was afraid Smart would choke up and fail after Swatch pulled out, but thankfully, Daimler is determined to make this car succeed, which is all the more reason I will support it's REAL release date in the USA. When we move back home to Montana, I WILL be buying a Calgary CDI mode, just need to let the days go by until then. After reading through this thread and thinking hard about this, I am really getting motivated to step up to a certification for both the 1st gen's and the 2nd gen's. If anyone has contact #'s for G&K's service line, please post them up here. A combined roadside assistant/mobile Smart mechanic may be just what the ZAP/ G&K situation requires in this region. The only competition I see to the Smart right now is this: http://www.theaircar.com/ The major drawback is the lack of safety devices the air car has compared to the Smart. The idea of compressed air being the only fuel requirement for the air car may make up for it's lightweight design and minimal creature features. They are definitely worth considering if they make it to our shores. The main drawback i see is service support, it is going to be a real issue for the air car since it is a completely new idea to most mechanics. Few tech's will be able to get past the lack of spark plugs and/or injector pumps. It has the potential to make ZAP look like a princess when the service support issues arises.
  14. ZAP "proposed" a business plan to Mercedes, which was outlined in their lawsuit towards Mercedes. Nothing was ever agreed upon with Mercedes or signed. Mercedes had ALOT of reservations in what ZAP was trying to do, mainly their eager offer to modify the cars from Mercedes original engineering to push them in the doors of the USA. Mercedes is not stupid, they are a world power automotive manufacturer, they didn't need ZAP's influence to import the car to the states. At the time the Smart was designed, it was being planned for Europe, not the USA. You have to remember the time period that the Smart was developed in, early 1990's. We (the USA) were still sucking down every drop of oil we could feed our SUV's with. There was no reason for anyone to consider a sub compact vehicle then, Mercedes knew the market was not ready for it. ZAP was/is very good about publishing lots of information that is heavily slanted to their side of things. You have to be very careful what you take away from reading their articles. The greenie type groups who have anb axe to grind against large sized automobiles were supporting ZAP and promoting the misinformation even further. As for Mercedes stopping them, they did stop them. Daimler put a do not touch order out to all of its dealers in the Europe and refused to support any ZAP orders. They succumbed to the requests by consumers to bring the car to the states. The final part of getting ZAP out of their business came when they awarded the exclusive rights and import contract to Penske. The minute Penske and Daimler signed that agreement, ZAP was finally shutdown from trying to squeeze their way into Mercedes business. Daimler is not stupid, they saw a nuisance middleman trying to target their intellectual property rights and engineering designs with the sole intent to get their fingers in the cookie jar. If ZAP had a workable business plan that met the standards Mercedes expects of its dealers, I'm sure things would have been very different. When ZAP asked for approval and then went around Mercedes back to import the cars secondhand, I'm sure that was the turning point for Mercedes decision to swat the fly. I'm quite sure that if someone came up to you off the street and told you they wanted to have exclusive rights to take over sales of your product with no real professional plan to account for things like 10 year federally mandated parts support/service, along with a reputable dealer image, you would do the same thing. I know I'd be pretty upset as a Mercedes dealer if I was told that I was still expected to live up the standards of my dealer contract with daimlerbenz while some shady misfit failed to even meet the initial startup requirements My distaste for the current Smart fiasco lies solely with the meddling of ZAP, not their customers and not the dealers who albeit gullible for jumping without proper research were given a bad batch of goods. I haven't had enough dealing with G&K to really build an opinion of them, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt that they will try to make good on their import conversions. They have been around a long time and done well with their other grey market models/brands. I'm not sure if the money is/was there in the vehicle class of a Smart compared to their high end Mercedes/Lamborghini/Ferrari exotics, which is likely why they had to mark the cars up so much over their sticker price across the pond. It's just more apparent in a lower priced car compared to a 6 figure sportscar/supercar's % . Enjoy your car, if you have the means to transport or drive the car to Canada for service, you will likely be fine. I had good responses from the Calgary based dealers when we looked into buying a Smart in Montana. The unexpected transfer to Alabama is what finally convinced me to just wait and see, thankfully.
  15. Regina, There alot more Smarts in the states than there are owners for currently, the unsold inventory that G&K and ZAP have is not moving very quickly cocnsidering the upcoming 2nd generations with FULL blessing by the EPA, National Carsh Safety institute, MERCEDES, and a few other rather important players. Just because the 1st generation Smarts have been brought to the states through the back door does not mean that Daimler or Penske owes the grey market owners ANYTHING. The whole issue with a grey market product is the way it is introduced to the consumer, it is an AS/IS purchase with no support from the manufacturer. You have to understand the way a service dept at a dealership works, if they don't have full parts and service manuals to support the car, they will not be able to do much of anything with it. Mercedes was not happy with the hackwork that ZAP and G&K was performing on their cars, if they thought their 1st generation cars were capable of being imported directly to the US without design changes, they would have done so. I hold no sympathy to the 1st generation owners who bought these cars from a crooked backhanded company like ZAP or even those who went through G&K. The cars and their owners have no right to hold ANY kind of grudge against Penkse or Daimler. There have been grey market vehicles in this country for years, which few dealers will touch due to software support, diagnostic incompatible hardware and the biggest issue; no way to legitimately certify their mechanics for the grey market models. If you want a certified technician to work on your car, pay a Mercedes mechanic for a vacation to Europe and send them through the certification course yourself. Make sure you factor in the annual retraining and technician service bulletins they will need to subscribe to. This is a VERY daunting task. If you are able to get a used diagnostic scanner from Europe somewhere, preferably England or Germany so the scan tool has English text options, you will be muchc better off to just perform the checks yourself or find a local mom and pop shop to do it for you with your test equipment. Parts will still need to be ordered from Europe if you expect the VIN# to reference correctly though. (VIN#'s are the glossary/index reference for every built since they were standardized). Back when I first joined this forum, I brought up these exact issues in more than one thread. I was left with only one possible option after I finished my research: Find a way to legally import a car from Calgary into Montana. This would have to be in conjuncction with an extended guest worker visa to Canada to work at a Smart dealer and get factory trained myself. The long shot option was to offer G&K conversions to sign me on as a G&K warranty service station. I may still do this if the # of 1st generation cars proves to be worth the investment to do it. By the way, I have been a factory trained as well as ASE certified tech for passenger cars and medium/heavy duty trucks for several years. I have worked for multiple dealers in the past. Unlike "you" as a consumer, I understand the risk involved in a dealership acting outside of its dealer/manufacturer agreements. You need to really think about what your posted expectations would cost a local Penske dealer, not to mention the parts network Mercedes would have to rollout to support a grey market limited production car that was never scaled up for release to the states. There is NO WAY to just overlap the 2 cars in the parts network, it doesn't work like that without huge network investments. Not something I'd want to do for a car I never made any intention to sell to a demographic region.