I always like to write the last "Restoration Boulevard" for the year.
One huge reason is I can begin dreaming of finishing one of many of the projects that were started in prior years and may just get finished in the new year.
The second reason is it is quite normal for folks to be festive and happy this time of year.
As always, I believe 2005 will be much better than 2004 and wish all success and happiness.
Speaking of getting better every year, here are some facts and observations from Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week 2004. Did you know that the first SEMA Show was in Dodger Stadium in 1967? How about this trivia jewel: the first Las Vegas SEMA Show was in 1976 and had 14,000 square feet of space. In 2004, the show had over a million square feet of space.
According to SEMA, the number of booths in 1967 was 98. In 2004, the number of booths was over 9,800. Vehicle displays in 1967 were a total of five. In 2004 there were over 2,000. Normally, I really don't care too much about statistics but it was pointed out that next year will be the 25th year that I have attended the SEMA Show and I have never missed AAPEX since they moved to Las Vegas.
I was happy to see many of the old Rognlien Wright Perman rep gang as well as Reese Russell's rangers from Southeast Advanced Marketing. Looking back…what a happy time we have had over the years.
I saw many of the buyers from the chains that have moved on and changed jobs. Congratulations to Tate Rush of AutoZone who now is merchandising manager. He is probably the best chain buyer I have ever dealt with.
Everything about SEMA impressed me this year. I saw more tires and wheels in the South Hall than I believed existed in the free world. I barely saw half of the truck, SUV, and off-road stuff.
Wonder of wonders, this year 57 exhibitors showed their products in the Restoration Marketplace. I ran into Chip Foose of the "Overhaulin'" TV show and had a huge discussion about '60's Plymouths at the Steele Rubber booth. I didn't recognize him from the TV show until one of my friends who was waiting for me said, "I hope you told him you like the show." My answer? "What show? We were talking about push-button transmission adjustments on Chrysler products."
I wish I would have recognized him and commented on how much I like the TV show. Automobile magazine rated it number one of all the auto restoration, repair, and modification programs.
There is an Automotive Restoration Market Association [ARMO]. According to SEMA, the restoration niche of the total $29 billion aftermarket industry generated $1.1 billion at retail in 2003.
If you have an inventory of DPG-208 ignition or some original hemi stuff, you may want to check your prices. As I tell my wife, there is an increasing demand for old cars and we are buying valuable inventory for the future.
I attended the CAWA [California/Nevada Automotive Wholesalers Association] dinner at Industry Week for the second time. I am impressed with the group and their program. Congratulations to Chairman Joe Zapata from Southern California for a year of service to the association. Thank you to CAWA for the nice dinner and hospitality.
I realize now that more than three people read "Restoration Boulevard" on a regular basis. This is because of the questions I now am getting about various topics I have discussed in past columns.
In one of the past columns I discussed Red Line Water Wetter. Thanks for the comments. Orange Engine has it in stock in Anaheim. And there are several sellers at the Long Beach and Pomona swap meets that have it available.
One fellow at SEMA tried to explain to me that what Red Line Water Wetter actually does is break down the big bubbles into smaller bubbles. The smaller the bubbles you have the more fluid heat transfer takes place and, therefore, there is more temperature control. That sounds right.
His buddy recommended a radiator cocktail for Southern California that goes like this: 1 quart of antifreeze, 1 bottle of Red Line, 1 bottle of anti-rust, and the balance in bottled water. I think he was referring to distilled water.
This — and other — coolant cocktail mixes were discussed over a few beverages in Las Vegas and a lot of that conversation has been forgotten or may have been confused.
And I have been asked for more information about car covers discussed in a past column and the names of the products. Here they are. "The tan car cover" that I recommend for the first layer for the outside storage of your car is Softbond. It is manufactured by Coverite Industries, Montclair, CA. I use Size F, which is 19 feet long, and costs $45 at the Long Beach Swap Meet. This tan car cover is pretty soft and breathes well, it appears. The tan cover lasts a lot longer than the blue cover to be discussed next.
The second stage for more protection from weather, "the blue cover," is the Xtrabond. It is also marketed by Coverite Industries in Montclair and is available for $40 at the Long Beach Swap Meet.
This cover only lasts two or three years in direct sun. The material gets brittle and all of a sudden you have a tear. This is followed by shredding that makes the collector car look like the ratty sails of a pirate ship. I usually use duct tape to repair this cover before a total replacement. Plan on duct tape repairs if you plan to extend the service life of "the blue cover" for its advertised five-year replacement.
But it's $40. What do you expect? The two-stage method I've described works for me and is, as I see it, an economical solution for outdoor storage.
I also have some door-buster economical covers that could be good for garage storage. I have the "EZY Does It" for $20 by Kappler. It is soft enough for garage service. The packaging does not indicate who distributes the product or where it is made. I would guess these were made in China and there are very few performance claims on the package other than covering your car is "EZY."
The dog of the batch of car covers examined was called "Cover Light," apparently kind of a knock-off of the Coverite brand. A very pleasant Middle Eastern man sold me one of these at Long Beach for $12.95 in the box and gave me two Craftsman screwdrivers to seal the deal. The fellow who sold it to me had a truck full of these car covers at the Long Beach swap meet. It was truly a door-buster deal.
This is, by far, the dog of all car covers. In fact, I am thinking about giving it to a friend for his dog's bed.
If you have really good cars and you want the best, California Car Cover has the best products, in my opinion. But for me, the two-stage method is an economical solution that works for outdoor storage.
This weekend is the last Long Beach Swap Meet for 2004 and the weather for it looks pretty good. I haven't taken the '63 Belvedere out for a long time. There is something magical about 500 horsepower going through3" exhaust. It's something special at 5:00 a.m. on the 405.
I wish everyone the best of holidays and good health and happiness for the New Year. I hope we can finish the project we started in the Middle East and start bringing our military men and women home this year.
Originally published in the December
2004/January 2005 Automotive
Copyright 2004 by KAL Publications Inc.
Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.