Ford and Walmart Partnership to Reduce Dealership Usage

I just read an article on Car and Driver that it is still taking me a bit of time to process. Maybe I’m getting slow in my old age, arghhh.

Walmart and Ford Help Car Buyers Steer Clear of Dealerships – was if anything an interesting read.

The article first points out the obvious – and that Ford paid people some good money to do a survey to find out that 83% of people want to spend less time in stealerships, I mean dealerships.

This statement – well, I have to say is really obvious. What the survey didn’t say was why people don’t like spending time in the dealerships.

You know, I think it is because everyone who works at Ford no longer has to go a dealership to buy a car. My family has bought two cars in the past three years. The problem is not the place of the dealership. It is not even the car salespeople. It is the “Finance Manager” – who came in both times with a hard sell for everything that wasn’t the car. “Nitrogen”, “Extended Warranty”, and who knows, maybe they will bring back “undercoating”.

I don’t want to see this person. You have after products you want to potentially sell? Give me a sheet of paper with a grid. Name of product, description of production, cost of product and a check box or two. You know what, not a piece of paper. Screw paper. A tablet. And every time I add something or remove it update the price and the payment per month.

And do us all a favor and fire all the “Finance Managers” at all the stealerships and make something that should be enjoyable as buying a new or new to me car – be just that – enjoyable.

Or you know what – people might welcome renting driverless cars instead of every owning a car again and your car sales functions at the dealerships can go suck it. I mean be unemployed.

Car Ownership

Sometimes you own cars and you keep them for a decade or more. Sometimes cars are only in your life for a short time. In the not too distant future it is possible that we won’t own cars and we will use cars as a service.

After my 2001 Honda Accord EX Coupe was finally put down I had my sister-in-laws Corolla. I don’t remember the year. It was much newer. Owning and driving the Toyota Corolla on a daily basis was nightmare. Well, a nightmare if nightmares are boring and lacking power. It was an ok car. Nothing to write home about.

Then I purchased the 2009 MINI JCW Clubman. It was an awesome car. When the air intake for the turbo didn’t blow off. The acceleration without the turbo was anemic at best.

The problem was that I kept hearing about a lot of people getting in to accidents in their MINI Coopers. And then I was in an accident in my MINI. In afterthought I think the car was too small that it began to suffer from things that happen with motorcycles – in essence – people couldn’t see it. Certainly, the woman that hit me didn’t see me.

It was repaired; however, circumstances change and a max 4 person car no longer suited my needs. At the time I thought there was a chance I would be carrying not only my 4 kids but two other kids and taking them out places and so a Honda Pilot made sense.

I like the car. It does what it is supposed to do. It drives well on bad surfaces, carries people. It isn’t particularly inspired in design. The music interface has much to be desired, but it works and you get used to it over time. It does make me take my eyes off the road a bit too much so I am extra careful.

The 2013 Honda Pilot EX L is a nice vehicle. While it isn’t much to write home about it is much better than the Toyota Corolla that I had once driven daily.

However; the biggest problem with the Honda Pilot is that we own a Honda Odyssey. A 2014 Honda Odyssey Elite.

One year newer – but the Odyssey is a much higher line and virtually everything is better. Not just things like electronics – but the design of a minivan is (sadly) far superior to the design of a SUV – even when both have the same engine, same transmission and likely share a large number of other components.

All that being said most likely I will be keeping the 2013 Honda Pilot for some time to come – probably exceeding the 11 years I owned the 2001 Honda Accord EX L and the 1992 Honda Civic LX that I had owned for 10 years before that. It has been a tumultuous time for my car ownership.

I don’t regret the MINI that I owned. It was a nice fast car. It was also expensive to maintain. If I had known how much I would have just gotten a used BMW 3 series – as the maintenance costs the same (virtually). The rough ride on the small car was not exactly enjoyable. I like feeling the road (which I can do even on my Honda Odyssey and Honda Pilot), but I don’t like having the road jammed in to my butt as if I was riding on the transmission on an old Camaro which I did while I was in high school.

Hopefully, I will make it out to the 2017 New York International Car show this year – and take lots of pictures of lots of interesting things – and I will post them up here.

2009 JCW MINI Clubman 4,000 Mile Update

Arggh mateys and well met.

We here at The Pirate King of Cars (TPKoC) have had the MINI for 4,000 miles of real world driving.

Above all, and higher than the tallest sail on our imaginary ship – the JCW MINI Clubman makes the boring commute fun.

But it has not been a journey without trials.  Very shortly after purchasing the JCW Clubman one of the turbo air intakes came off.  This caused very erratic behavior and if the JCW Clubman were a ship, we were afeared of our lives.

It was straightened out quickly at the dealership (at no charge), but they convinced me that I needed new spark plugs and an oil change.  $500 down the tubes.

There are some other issues…  That cannot be solved so simply.  And while the turbo air intake tube came out again, now that the problem is known it is easily addressed.  Maybe someday I’ll even clean the oil off the turbo and off the inside of the turbo intake tube so it won’t come out again.

Ride quality on the streets of the United States of America…  Well, they were paving the streets near TPKoCs house and sadly they left a layer of highway ripped off for quite some time.  A layer of road that TPKoC drives perpendicular to once daily.

Let’s say the first time I took it like I was driving my wife’s minivan.  I heard what I thought was a gunshot.  There is a possibility that some poo came out.  After a bit of disorientation I continued on the last mile to my home in a slight daze.  Sadly, this isn’t the only time this has happened.  Sometimes, no matter how cautious, you follow a bit too closely and get a surprise with a side order of poo.

The next thing was that I got a service light for the rear brakes.  TPKoC has no idea when the last time the brakes had been done.  This, however, turned out to be an adventure.  Firestone was chosen to do the brakes, but they either missed or TPKoC wasn’t noisy enough about the fact that it was a JCW.  Oh, no, we can’t get that part on a Sunday.  Fortunately, TPKoC has extended family with cars they don’t use everyday.  Monday was an adventure in a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Driving the Jeep Grand Cherokee was better than driving nothing at all…  But the feel of this vehicle is like stepping in moist dog poo in bare feet.  Not fun.

Firestone then had problems with the passenger side rear caliper.  They were going to replace it.  Then, with lots of elbow grease, research on the internet and, pure determination – they removed the parking brake connection they were able to replace the brake pads on the passenger side rear brake.

TPKoC finally got the car back on Wednesday, sadly at a cost of another $500.  Next time perhaps I’ll buy the parts ahead of time and take the car to a place that specializes in German cars, er I mean British cars!

Finally, the past two days in the NorthEast have been showing the anger of the gods of winter.  Snow, some other kind of precipitation that isn’t quite snow or rain, and cold weather have besieged TPKoC!  Never fear!  The stock tires on the MINI seem to be tolerable in these conditions.  When the time comes, we’ll be sacrificing a bit of performance for non-run flat tires that are all season.

Oh, and to the tire guy in the Linden Sam’s club – yes, they do make tires that small.  I’d hate to see the look on his face if someone had a classic Mini for a tire change.


Oh, and the tire sensors and time for the front brakes are threatening me with needing to do them – but for as long as I’ve been driving the car – it seems like it is 1900 miles until they need to be changed!

Typical fuel economy has been 29 mpg.


The MINI community is awesome – and The League of Extraordinary MINIacs is a great place to learn about MINIs and be with MINI/Mini people!

Enjoy the pics!

Data and Information

The winds of fate hurled yon TPKoC (The Pirate King of Cars) to the shores of Barnes and Noble.  A favorite place to go from ages in the past and hopefully on to the future.

Of course, they may not have books there in the future, but I’m sure they will continue to have things of interest.

In any case, there I was on this beautiful place that should there have been fewer than 4 kids in my life I might spend hours there.

Time is of the essence and I found something interesting…  A magazine “Used Car Prices” From VMR Vehicle Market Research.

Methinks that from data just lying there this could become information.  I quickly seized the magazine (and paid for it) and left.

Oh, the analysis I could do and release information to the world.  I decide quickly to type the contents of the book in to an Excel spreadsheet in preparation to load it in to SQL Server.

But…  The data might be fine for someone trying to find out what a car is worth (prices seem 2K low, even for this); however, it is not fine for doing data analysis.

Vehicle descriptions differ from year to year for the same car.  Abbreviations are used, or not used willy nilly (look at Audi – Premium Plus or Premium+ or Prem+.

There are header lines for each model, but they include information that can only be on the detail level.  For example:

2009 Aud TT FW/2.0T-IfT (200hp) – this is all header information.

But when you look at the details, not all Audi TT coupes/convertibles from the year 2009 have the same engine (2.0T, 3.2 V6).  Not all Audi TT coupes/convertibles have the same drive train (FWD, AWD).  So, clearly, this information cannot be header information if it isn’t the same for all the detail/children records!

It is exhausting going through this data, but in the end it might be worth it.  Will the analysis of the data be perfect?  No, master data screwed means that analysis can never be more than ok…

2009 Mini JCW Clubman – First week in Review

Pieces of Eight me hearties – feels like platinum to drive this car.

Well, no, honestly, but it is damned good.

TPKoC (The Pirate King of Cars) loves driving this car so much that he nearly drove a thousand miles – starting miles 37040 – current miles – 38010!


TPKoC popped the clutch once late Monday and apparently one of the air intakes for the turbo were knocked loose.  The symptoms were unsteady idle.  Mates – TPKoC was ready to return the car and say “Never again” to used cars.

But no, a quick trip to the dealer and they were able to fix it quickly with no muss.  Paid for oil change and spark plug replacement of $300, though.  It is a new to me car and those didn’t seem like demanding TPKoC walk the plank…

Figuring out some of these buttons might take a bit of time – especially the fog light button.  Sometimes it lights the top, sometimes it lights the bottom, sometimes it lights both, but I can’t figure out how to make it do what?  Right now, it seems I can turn the top fog light on and off with relative alacrity…

Found out from friends on the web that you should warm the car up before setting off and this will hopefully save wear and destruction on the turbos.  Also, apparently, good practice to let the car idle for a minute or two before shutting it off.

Methinks TPKoC can handle that; however, he is sure used to just starting and going or stopping and walking away with most modern cars.  Not such a horrible thing, though, for having such a hot car!

While the onboard electronics have determined my mpg to be 28.9, using math and looking in to the air in the hopes of inspiration TPKoC has determined that the car got slightly better than 30 mpg for the second tank of gas.  This is dead-on similar to the mpg in TPKoC’s old Corolla, with a lot less fun to be had in that Corolla.

The 2009 (coincidentally) Corolla was so mundane it was helping to make TPKoC a boring person.

Now, TPKoC just wants to drive his JCW places and take pictures of it.

A 2009 JCW Mini Review

Arrrgh, mateys…  The first week of owning the 2009 JCW Mini Cooper Clubman!  It has been a week of ups and downs.  In the end it is all good.

I found this video review of a 2009 JCW Mini Cooper that is almost identical to TPKoC’s car!  From a technical perspective this is a great review.  Unfortunately, it is really boring.  TPKoC couldn’t imagine the great god Jeremy Clarkson’s review of a JCW Mini Cooper being boring.

Perhaps The Pirate King of Cars can take a stab at a video review of his car!


The youngest male pirate in the household called the Mini “The World’s smallest Limo!” and loved the door that opened just for him to use.

Excellent JCW mini vs GT86 Comparison!

TPKoC loved watching this video!

It isn’t because the guy sounds like he’s coughing up a lung.  It is only a different language – so turn on the closed captioning and watch.

The Pirate King does wonder though, if there is one or two of him…

Autoblog ist gut!  (Not really sure if that’s correct, but it looks like it!)