If you haven’t noticed, it seems our country is slowly shifting back to making fantastic products again. When I say making, I mean manufacturing, not just designing. For decades we moved away from making things and outsourced it. Now when you call customer service, or buy something in the store, it’s often pushed out of country.
For years my wife and I stuck with foreign cars mainly because of slow depreciation rates and outstanding reliability. I mean our Honda Accord never had any problems and we drove the crap out of it. After driving it to Alaska from Phoenix, it never faltered even after 160k miles. She upgraded to an Acura after that and it too was an extremely reliable vehicle.
I opted to buy a classic car. I wanted an old Bronco, but fell in love with a 1973 Scout II made by International Harvester. They mostly made tractors and built the Scout using that tried and true technology. It was simple, with an overbuilt engine that made it very reliable. Bought that for $4500 and fixed it up some, mostly cosmetic. I had the Scout for 4 years and it only broke down once. They don’t make them like that anymore.
Sim moved on to a used Lexus that was 10 years old. She loves the car for the most part, minus the color which is black. The ride and quality is second to none, and it was affordable. I found a 1962 Volvo P1800 for sale at an auction around the time she got her Lexus. I got a deal on that, and spent a couple months getting it running. I didn’t now much about the 1800s, but I learned a lot. They are very simple cars, pretty safe, and are known for being the most reliable car in the galaxy with one logging 3 million miles and going. And I learned how Volvo is really a standup company. They’ve came up with many inventions that have improved safety, emissions, etc., and made the patents open so other companies could use them. That’s like how in the old days people would cure polio and give it to the world, instead of selling it for billions.
So I had two classic cars for a little bit, with the intention of selling the Scout. I wanted a smaller car so Sim’s Lexus and my car could fit in the garage. In Phoenix, garages are nice to have in the summer! But after driving the Volvo for a while, I realized I didn’t want to have that as my daily driver. It’s too small, too pretty, and everybody in Phoenix drives a lifted 8 ton SUV (slight exaggeration) and I don’t want to get crushed. So Netflix emailed me one of their picks that I needed to see, it was called Abstract: The Art of Design. I binge watched it and it was very inspiring on many levels. Ralph Gilles was featured in episode 5:
I watched it and something in me started stirring. I respected the path and hardships he’d been through. They mentioned the Dodge Challenger and the new Hellcat version. It reminded me of my first car which was a Camaro Z28. I worked for a few years when I was young, and saved up enough to put a down payment on the car right when I turned 16. I had so much fun driving like a maniac in that thing. In hindsight, I guess I’m lucky I didn’t crash or lose my license. So this gave me the idea to potentially get a sports car again. I love going fast, whether it’s on my bicycle, dirtbike, car, etc. So I did a ton of research on sport cars. I looked at most of them online and narrowed it down to the American Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger. I considered new and used, and learned that used Challengers didn’t appreciate very much at all. I could buy a 2 year old Dodge with 15-30k miles and save only a few thousand dollars. Having a warranty and a new car would be worth that extra cost. Very slow depreciation is a great indicator of the quality of a product, in my opinion. It means the secondary market has realized what it’s really worth. I’ve been sticking with classic cars for some time and they didn’t devalue, in fact my two cars were worth more than I had into them.
So I sold both of my classics and bought a new 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT about a month ago. My two old cars paid for the new one which was awesome. And I got the Dodge for $10k off the MSRP. As a person who appreciates design and value, I am so impressed with this car. I love the early 70s version of it, and they captured the styling with the new one. It has that retro look, but updated. And the power is pretty nuts at 485 hp / 485 ft lbs of torque. The 8 speed automatic shifts in .16 seconds and has 3 modes. In track mode it’s like popping the clutch. It’ll spin the tires shifting into 3rd.
The sexy Nappa leather seats are really comfortable, they are vented with A/C, so no more sweaty back for me. And it has a stereo! I’ve been listening to headphones for 4 years now since my Scout really didn’t have tunes. I mostly listen to books on tape, but now I have speakers!
There are many exotic and foreign cars that compete with the Dodge, and most, if not all, are much more expensive. This car has the power and stats to keep up with $100k+ cars, it’s seats 5, and I paid $43k for this thing. What I got for my money is nothing short of incredible. It’s a track capable car with loads of power, a 5 year powertrain warranty, and I love the looks. This is an American muscle car! It’s huge, bigger than Sim’s SUV in length and width. The sound of the engine roaring is so cool. The engineers added valves in the exhaust so when you are just cruising, it’s quiet, and when you punch it, the exhaust opens up and it gets LOUD! We managed to get 27 MPG on our first road trip which is mind boggling. Good mileage and almost 500 hp?
I see American companies are finally realizing that they need to step it up if they want to stay in business. Hire bright inspired people and work hard to make the best possible product. Focusing primarily on profit and outsourcing most aspects is not sustainable for a company, or the planet. And my Dodge reminds me of our products. We make stuff that we love, and build it to withstand extreme abuse, well above commercial applications. Why would a table need to be able to support a few tons of weight? Why would a car need to go 180 MPH? Why would the car need giant 6 piston Brembo brakes? Well if you overbuild a product, it’ll last much longer for regular and occasional hard use or abuse. Most of the Dodge Challengers will never see a racetrack, but it’s built to withstand just that. The track is where vehicles are pushed to their extreme limits. And industrial quality is just that, but for furniture.
Many Americans are quitting their tech or computer jobs and are becoming Makers. I did it, and I love it most of the time. Making something tangible you LOVE that agrees with your core values, well that creates passion. Making with profit as the main goal, that retards passion. Profit is necessary, but we consider it as a by-product of doing something we love.
We’re really lucky here in that we are making something we think is cool. We get done with a build and often our guys are snapping pics of it to show family and friends, what a life! Sometimes we forget that, I know I do. But today I am feeling really grateful for the life that I have. Not everybody gets to work in a field they feel to be meaningful. But we can strive to live up to our own set of values, and treat others with compassion and respect. Treat others how you want to be treated. Hold yourself and others accountable for their actions. Actions have consequences, good and bad. I’ve worked as a tech support guy, website builder, bookkeeper, in investment banking, a Maker, and now I help run our company with a super team.
So the American manufacturing revolution is ramping up. We will need more skilled workers as factories move back here from Asia! Many of our workers we had to train how to weld and fabricate. We tend to hire people with great attitudes over skill. Skill can be taught, but attitude, that is set at an early age and rarely budges.