Greetings from Tokyo, Japan!
I am here for four days meeting with customers and working the booth at the International Auto Aftermarket Expo. The Japanese show is a bit smaller than the AAPEX Show at the Sands in Las Vegas.
There are some differences and some things are the same. The biggest difference is that every booth has a lot of chairs in it for the sales staff. If you show an interest in their products, they jump to their feet and greet you. If you are just cruising by the whole sales group just sits around.
My top three booths at the show were Carfeel Air Catalyst, Spider Auto Security, and Mobiletron Car Multimedia Systems.
Before I get into any of these three Japanese products, may I direct you to the Comp-Cam website1. Check out the ZE4 Rapid Fire Purge Module kit. There is even a demonstration of a nitrous system purging and sounding like a machine gun on the site. This system releases nitrous with a "machine gun" blast of noise and color to let them know you're nitrous equipped.
I really don't think I would be purging my nitrous system in downtown L.A. if it sounded like a machine gun.
Back to the Japan trade show. The Carfeel Air Catalyst appears to be a system that injects some chemicals into the car through the heater vents. According to the sales people, it keeps you alert and refreshed as you drive.
Tokyo's traffic is as bad — or worse — than Los Angeles. The Carfeel people also make the claim that the chemicals injected have a calming effect on the driver. They have a good video with everyone getting out of a car with the Carfeel looking quite happy.
I really don't believe the Carfeel product can live up to the claims unless it's injecting a narcotic or other illegal material into the car heater.
Spider Auto Security — this is some high-tech security device system. You can program it many ways to suit your situation. I really liked the fact that somehow they are using the trademark of Marvel Comics and had a Spider-Man all dressed up in the booth.
The final thing that I thought was interesting was Mobiletron Car Media Systems. This system gives you a video feed in the rear view mirror. You can use it for GPS navigation, hands-free picture phone, DVD player, or cameras on the car on the outside. You can move the system from car to car easily as the little cameras can be mounded with magnets.
It is always hard when I use the car trailer to see what's going on behind me. According to the salesman, this system will allow me — with a little extra wire — to mount cameras on the back of the vehicle and on the trailer.
Back in the U.S. and from the mail bag, Leonard Martin wrote, "I am trying to find parts for a 1965 Ford Galaxy. Can you help?"
Leonard, believe it or not, I had a 1965 Ford Galaxy. It was red with a white convertible top. It was a great car and it looked great.
For Galaxy parts, I like Kanter Auto Parts (www.kanter.com). I also recommend 1A Auto Parts (www.1aauto.com). Northwestern Parts in Wisconsin is another good source. My favorite, however, is eBay Motors (www.eBaymotors.com). I went to the site today and found about 20 items.
A lot of stuff is available still at auto parts stores and that is always a good place to start.
J.C. writes, "My '75 Buick Estate Wagon has an incredible amount of stainless trim around the windows, etc., all of which is now practically white from years of weathering. How do I remove this white staining and get back down to a nice bright stainless steel finish as original?"
Okay, Jeff, you have basically three choices. The number one and easiest choice is to bring it to a detailer and have them polish out the stainless by hand.
Choice number two: you polish the stainless by hand. I like Maas brand polish in a tube or Mothers polish or Turtle Wax chrome & stainless polish. Take your time, follow the directions, and all should be well.
Choice number three (the hardest): remove the stainless from the Buick and either take it to a polisher and have him do it (much easier) or set up a buffing wheel in your garage and buff the stainless out yourself.
If you plan to do it yourself, get a polishing video before you begin. The video and different buffs and other needed supplies can be found at the Long Beach Swap Meet or at the Pomona Swap Meet. Don't be convinced by one of the slick salesmen who polishes beer cans at the swap meet. Stick with brands you know. You're polishing a Buick, not a beer can.
I hope your Buick has a 455. That was a pretty hot engine. As I remember, Chevrolet had a 454 in 1975. Chrysler had the 440 and Ford had a 460. Regardless of the engine, the sight of the 72-75 Buick wagons cruising always makes me smile.
Another difference between American auto shows and Japanese auto shows are the booth girls. Here in Japan the young booth girl look is what I call "all banged up." Their hair, clothing, and appearance make them look like they were out the night before on an all-night drunk.
My friend, who is Japanese, says that they look as if they took a few spins in the clothes dryer before they came to work to get "the banged-up look."
My friend and I both agreed that the younger generation — both American and Japanese — is foreign to us.
Here in Japan, the TV show The O.C. is popular. If I tell someone in Japan that I live in Anaheim they are a bit puzzled. But if I say I live in the O.C., they know exactly where that is.
That's about all from Japan. I can hardly wait to get back to the O.C., take a ride in the clothes dryer, hook up my van to the Carfeel Air Catalyst system, install the Spider and Mobiletron systems, and I will be ready to go.
As goofy as some of this aftermarket stuff is to me in Japan, Comp-Cams beat them all. If you hear the sound of a machine gun from a vehicle that is purging its nitrous system, it won't be me. I will be drifting peacefully using my Carfeel air catalyst system from Japan. Sweet dreams, baby.
Originally published in the April/May 2005 Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright 2005 by KAL Publications Inc.
Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.