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Government Surplus Vehicle Guide

The Government Surplus Vehicle Guide

The Government Surplus Vehicle Guide

At government surplus auctions, unwanted property is sold to save on storage and maintenance costs. These auctions are some of the best ways for individuals and businesses to get quality used vehicles at affordable prices.

You can typically buy government surplus or confiscated vehicles via sealed bid, live auction, or online auction. The purchasing process can vary depending on the rules used by each selling government agency.

To make the whole process of buying government surplus vehicles easier, read on to find everything you need to know before bidding in a government-sponsored auction.

Where Do Government Surplus Vehicles Come From?

Over time, the government may accumulate a large number of vehicles and must open any surplus or seized items for sale to the public. How often these sales occur depends on the size of government and the process for which they sell items. For example, if they do a live auction, they may accumulate vehicles for an auction day that might be held only once per year. Items for sale could be municipal vehicles that have been replaced and are no longer required; vehicles forfeited from criminal cases by the police; abandoned vehicles; or vehicles from tow lots that were never picked up by their owners.

Where and How Can You Buy Government Surplus Vehicles?

The way you approach government surplus auctions will affect your chances of winning. Always look for a reputable auction company. Read buyer reviews. Check if the site is considered reliable by a reputable institution, such as the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP).

Scanning thousands of cars can be tiresome. Once you’ve picked the auction site, browse the site beforehand, choose your target vehicle, and research its prices over the last few months. This will help you determine a set price you’re willing to pay before the auction starts. It’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of the auction and bid more than you planned.

If possible, go for a test drive or get an inspection done.

When it comes to bidding strategies, keep the bidding to yourself to avoid drawing attention to the item, attracting other bidders, and possibly increasing the final sale price. Some savvy buyers often wait until the last minute to bid. Also, since most people bid in even amounts, you’re more likely to beat them by bidding in uneven amounts. Rather than bidding $500, bid $501.

Guide to Online Auctions

Auctions let you avoid dealer markups or overly ambitious owners. You may also come across rare vehicles that are not easily found anywhere else at incredible prices. To ensure your auctioning experience is enjoyable, make sure you’re well prepared.

  • Know the auction site. Since every site has different rules, do your homework: understand how the auction works as well as the terms and conditions.
  • Know the seller. Identify who the seller is. Check their feedback rating.
  • Know the vehicle you’re bidding on and its relative value. Determine whether the vehicle comes with a warranty and how to get follow-up service if you need it.
  • Only bid on the vehicle you intend to buy. Establish your top price and stick with it. If you’ve won an auction, if possible, pay with a credit card as they offer more buyer protection.

If you run into a problem during your transaction, try to work it out directly with the seller or with the auction site.

Why Buy from an Online Auto Auction?

You can find decent-quality vehicles at much cheaper prices from online auto auctions. For business owners who need many “new” vehicles, this can save a lot of money. If you enjoy the thrill of the bidding process and have the time, confidence, and knowledge, buying vehicles from an online auto auction can also be a lot of fun.

Tips for Getting a Great Deal in an Online Auto Auction

  • Use your common sense. Look at everything carefully and note down any signs of repairs. Also, be honest with yourself. If you don’t have the ability to deal with any potential challenges, don’t talk yourself into believing otherwise.
  • Know the vehicle before you bid. Research its market price. Again, if you don’t know what it’s worth, don’t take the risk. Check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) from different places (if possible, both on and off the car) to make sure they match.
  • Remember, nothing is as good as it looks. Some touchups and polishes are cheap. Don’t believe everything you see. Bid conservatively if you’re not sure.
  • Observe other bidders. Watch their actions closely on all the vehicles up for auction. If no one else shares your enthusiasm for a particular vehicle, maybe there was something you missed.

What to Know When Buying

When you consider buying a car online, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How can I tell if an auction site is reliable or a scam? Depending on the type of auction site, you may be able to find online reviews. Take a look at previously completed auctions and see who is using the auction website to sell items.
  • What’s the vehicle’s history of ownership?
  • How’s the body condition? Has the car been in any accidents? Is there any rust?
  • How long has the car been on the market?
  • Has the car had any recent repairs?
  • What’s the vehicle’s mileage?
  • How was the vehicle used? Take, for example, police cars. While they might not have high mileage, they are left running practically 24/7, especially in colder environments where the car transfers from one shift to the next.
  • Is this car in good condition? You can obtain a full vehicle history report (VHR) by using the VIN from a company like Carfax.

For some sound advice on how to be best informed when you’re ready to buy, check out our list of questions to ask when talking with a seller.

What’s a VIN and How Do You Find It?

VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number. It’s the identifying code for any specific automobile. Each code is comprised of 17 characters (digits and letters) that is unique to the car and includes information about its manufacturer, model, and features. In other words, a VIN serves as a car’s fingerprint that can be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts, and insurance coverage.

VINs can be found both off and physically on the vehicle.

  • Off the vehicle: Look at the vehicle title, registration card, insurance documents, owner’s manual, body shop repair records, police reports, and vehicle history report (VHR).
  • On the vehicle: You can check the front of the engine block, front of the car frame, rear wheel well, inside the driver-side doorjamb, and driver-side doorpost.

How to Read Vehicle History Reports (VHRs)

Before you buy a used car, you’ll want to know as much about it as you can. Make sure you really dig into the history of the car and pay attention to any suspicious information. Here are the things you should look out for:

  • Number of previous owners. A car with multiple past owners may not have had proper care.
  • Previous locations. A vehicle’s past locations can cause some significant damage, such as extreme heat, flooding, or snow and icy road conditions.
  • VIN number, make, model, style, and vehicle description. This can help you avoid various types of vehicle fraud, like VIN cloning.
  • Reported damage and accidents the car was involved in.
  • Filed auto repair and service records.
  • Any suspicious markings.

You can obtain VHRs from Carfax or other private companies. For a reputable list of private VHR providers, check out the National Motor Vehicles Title Information System’s (NMVTIS) list of approved VHR providers.

Registrations and Forms

Whenever buying or selling a vehicle, you will need to transfer the title to its new owner. Before you buy, make sure the selling agency has a title to sign over to you or equivalent paperwork to prove the chain of ownership leading to you.

When buying a used car, you must not only submit a title transfer application, but depending on your state’s requirements, you might also have to provide an odometer reading, a VIN, and a Bill of Sale. If buying from the US government, you’ll need to get a Standard Form 97 (SF97) called “Certificate of Release of a Motor Vehicle.” This is a bill of sale that transfers ownership from the government to you.

What Is a Salvage Title?

A salvage title is a form of vehicle title branding which notes that the vehicle has sustained major damages or has been deemed a “total loss” by an insurance company that paid a claim on it. Salvaged vehicles can be rebuilt and inspected to be re-registered.

How to Insure a Salvage Vehicle

Depending on what state you’re in, you’ll have to jump through different hoops to get a legal title, registration, and insurance for a salvage vehicle. Furthermore, many car insurance companies may refuse to insure a car that has been listed as salvage or only provide liability insurance and exclude coverage related to the original damage to the car.

Follow the steps below to find the most reasonable coverage for your salvage vehicle:

  • Get all the documentation you need to prove that your car is safe to drive according to your local state laws.
  • Get the original repair estimate, if possible. Show proof that all the original damage has been adequately repaired when you talk to an insurer.
  • Search for “salvage insurance” online. This will help narrow down a number of insurance companies that meet your needs. Not all insurance companies have the same restrictions. Some companies will insure vehicles that are actively being repaired or have been totaled out by other insurers.
  • Opt for liability insurance only. Despite this “minimal coverage,” expect to pay higher premiums. Be sure to read the policy carefully and compare different options to get the best possible coverage.

How to Register a Salvage Vehicle

Here are the basic requirements for registering a salvage vehicle:

  • A completed Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) signed by all current owners.
  • Proof of ownership. This can be a Salvage Certificate, the Certificate of Title, or an Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) form.
  • A Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) or CHP Certificate of Inspection (CHP 97C) form.
  • Brake and light adjustment certificates for most vehicles.
  • Registration fees, which may vary from state to state.

Hidden Costs of Salvage Vehicles

It’s difficult – but not impossible – to insure salvage vehicles. If you happen to get into an accident, the total loss payout you’ll receive will also be much lower (if there is any payout at all).

If you try to sell or trade your salvage vehicle, it’s harder to get a good deal. In fact, most franchise dealers won’t take a salvage-title vehicle as a trade-in. You can either sell it to an independent dealership or a private party. Often, it’s best to assume you’ll be the final owner of the vehicle until it can no longer run.

Registering a Restored Vehicle

The registration process for a restored vehicle varies depending on state laws as well as the reason the vehicle registration was suspended. In most cases, you’ll need to provide proof of insurance, a declaration page for the vehicle being restored, and a copy of the front and back of the certificate of title or bill of sale.

Insuring a Restored Vehicle

When a vehicle is considered “restored,” this usually means it was previously labeled as “salvage,” but then was repaired or restored to full working condition. In many cases, it’s possible to get full coverage on a restored vehicle, but only with some car insurance companies. In most states, to get a restored title back on the road, the car owner must go through the process of a mandatory state inspection.

Restoration

There’s a sense of satisfaction when you can buy a classic car and return it to its former glory. However, there are important factors to take into consideration when choosing the car that you’ll spend time and money on restoring.

  • Do your research carefully and choose a vehicle that will retain value. Don’t impulsively settle for a particular model. Some vehicles will never be valuable, no matter how carefully they’re restored.
  • Be aware of rust damage. Rust is time consuming to repair. It may also require costly replacement of steel body panels.
  • Make sure replacement parts are available. If you buy an uncommon model, there may be a shortage of replacement parts and used parts might be very expensive.
  • Seek advice from an expert. Do you know someone who has more experience in auto restoration? Their advice will save you a lot of time and potential headache.

Reasons to Buy Salvage Auto Parts

Buying salvage auto parts is common when you have a damaged vehicle that is in need of repair. If you’re questioning whether you should buy salvage or used auto parts, consider the following advantages of salvage parts.

  • Cost savings. Salvage parts tend to be significantly cheaper than new equivalent pieces.
  • Good condition. Used auto parts can be just as good as new ones, even though they might have some wear and tear.
  • Environmentally friendly. Reusing salvage auto parts allows you to save on the cost and resources involved in manufacturing and transporting a new part.

How to Restore a Car and Sell It for Profit

The prospect of buying and restoring a car in order to sell it for a profit is fascinating. However, if done wrong, it can cost you a fortune. Here’re a few tips on how to make money restoring and selling cars:

  • Have a plan. Think about whether you can build the car the way you see it in your mind and whether you can restore it in a cost effective way to make a profit.
  • Stay financially realistic. Don’t spend more on the restoration than your potential profit from selling the car.
  • Be sure the car is in a certain level of condition and that it will have some resale value. You need to find the right car to start with – one you don’t need to spend too much money on to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, your investment won’t pay off.

Before you rush into a government surplus vehicle auction, identify your goal. Think carefully about what you’re doing and why. Do your homework. Know your state’s laws. Seek as much advice as possible because even though it’s easy to make an online purchase, there can be many potential problems and pitfalls.

Need help with buying a surplus vehicle from the government? Municibid is an online auction site where government agencies, schools, and other authorities sell used vehicles directly to the public. Check out our listings in your area by clicking here.

I Can’t Drive 55! …or 35.

If you’re a rock n’ roll fan of a certain age, you’ve no doubt had the pleasure of tooling down the interstate at high speed while cranking Sammy Hagar’s 1984 classic hit “I Can’t Drive 55”. There is a rumor that he originally wanted to record the song in metric. Fortunately his producer talked him out of recording “I Can’t Drive 89 Kilometers An Hour”, for the obvious reason most Americans don’t know what the heck a kilometer is.

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Sammy, also known as The Red Rocker, has made a pile of cash from “I Can’t Drive 55”. It’s been in commercials, sporting events, movies (Back to the Future Part II), and video games. Most don’t remember that it was even the theme song for Sesame Street in 1987, until The Muppets went on strike in protest. It is said that the song contributed to Snuffaluffagus getting a stress-induced case of hair loss.

“Go on and write me up for 125. Post my face, wanted dead or alive. Take my license, all that jive. I can’t drive 55, oh no, uh”

The point is, this was a big deal of a song. In 2009, I was living in Marin County, California, in the town of Mill Valley. This is on the opposite side of the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. I was heading to the local market to pick up groceries when I came to a 4 way stop sign on Miller Drive. There was traffic at all four corners of the intersection. After a few minutes, I pulled to the sign. When I looked over to my right, I saw a Smart Car next in line. If you don’t know what a Smart Car is, it’s basically a street legal, gas-powered golf cart with a roof, back seat, and seat belts.

Something caught my attention about the car. I suddenly realized who the driver was – The Red Rocker himself, Sammy Hagar – with 3 children wedged into the SMART Car with him. I stared at him with a slack-jawed grin. He caught my gaze, and got the joke immediately – he was not going 55 in that car. With a big smile beneath his mirrored wrap-around shades, he shrugged his shoulders at me then passed through the intersection. He was definitely not driving 55, or even 35.I laughed all the way to the market.

“When I drive that slow, you know it’s hard to steer. And I can’t get my car out of second gear.”

Whether you’re ready to drive 55 or 35, you can find all sorts of quality used vehicles in Municibid online auctions. You’ll find a variety of options that will suit your budget. You might find a gently used police cruiser, or a four door sedan, or maybe a pickup truck to haul supplies on your back 40… and yes, you might even find that sweet SMART Car you’re looking for.

 

If The Red Rocker has taught us anything, it’s that no person can drive 55 forever. Sometimes, you need a Ferrari and sometimes you need an Smart Car. Life in the fast lane or slow cruising with the kiddos, Municibid is here with used cars, trucks and all that jive.

“Go on and write me up for 125. Post my face, wanted dead or alive. Take my license, all that jive. I can’t drive 55, oh no, uh.”

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Lyrics from “I Can’t Drive 55”, copyright 1984 Sammy Hagar.

No Snuffaluffagus were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

Spring Clean: DIY Vehicle Maintenance

diy vehicle maintenance

Much has been said about the money-saving aspect of making or repairing our own items. Most of the time, doing things yourself allows you to save a big chunk on labor costs.

However, the hidden benefits of doing things yourself can be even more rewarding than just being frugal. It’s fun to learn something new.

When it comes to vehicles, you may think that DIY is overly complicated and should be left in the hands of mechanical experts. The truth is that there are certain tasks you can handle — quickly and easily — regardless of your level of experience with DIY.

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The trick is to know when and when not to DIY. Start with a small project if this is your first time. Seek help from people who have some experience fixing or making things on their own. That way, you’ll be able to learn faster.

Here are a few vehicle maintenance tasks you can easily manage on your own.     

1. Oil Changes

One of the most common maintenance tasks is changing oil.

But how often should you change it?

You might have read in some old owner’s manuals that you should change your engine oil every 3,000 miles. However, this advice is outdated.

Thanks to advanced automotive technologies, the majority of today’s cars require a standard oil change somewhere between 7,500 to 10,000 miles.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when changing oil by yourself.

  • Always wait for the engine to cool down before getting started.
  • You will need to use a jack, so make sure you’re comfortable with handling one.
  • Hand-fasten the new oil filter tightly.
  • Fill the engine only with the amount of oil called for — do not try to overfill it.
  • Use the dipstick for double checking that you’ve added enough oil.
  • Turn on the engine for about 30 seconds for circulation and to spot any leaking.

2. Dirt and Stain Removal

Are you annoyed by those coffee stains on the passenger seat or the windshield clogged with dirt? Before visiting your local car detailing service, why not try using some of the items in your home? You’ll be surprised at what they can do.

When cleaning car upholstery, many people make the mistake of using more water than needed, thinking it will give them more of a desired outcome. This is actually counterproductive. Water increases the level of moisture in the car which causes damage to the fabric, leads to rust on the frame metal, and leaves your interior with a musty odor.

Dryer lint, dish detergent, or baby wipes can effectively save your seat upholstery from being harassed by stubborn marks. Likewise, a mixture of baking soda (¼ cup) and warm water (1 cup) can keep the toughest stains at bay.

How about getting rid of those blotchy, foggy spots on your windshield? Many professionals use a single-edge razorblade.

You may think that razorblades will only scratch the windshield. The truth is that modern windshields consist of two thin layers of glass and a rubber layer embedded in the middle which makes them invulnerable to a razor. The key is to keep the work surface wet by using glass cleaner. Keep the angle small and the blade flat. Avoid broad strokes and the windshield corners.

3. Changing the Air Filter

Air filters play a critical role in keeping dirt, dust, and air particles out of you car’s engine. For every 12,000 miles driven or at least once every year, you need a new air filter. It might sound a bit daunting, but this task will only take a few minutes.

An air filter change is often an “upsell” your mechanic might offer when you take your vehicle in for other maintenance. Generally, the additional cost is significantly higher than what it would be for you to buy and replace your own filter.

The air filter is a black rectangular box with metal clips located under the hood of your car. If you have trouble finding this, check the owner’s manual for more information.

Study how the old air filter fits inside the case to make sure that once you replace it with a new one, it looks exactly the same. Remember to close the metal clips on the side when you’re done.

Aside from replacing the air filter when the time comes, you may also want to clean it on a regular basis. It can get clogged up rather quickly which prevents air from entering the engine, reduces your gas mileage, and ultimately, costs you more money.

4. Battery Maintenance

The secret to a long-lasting and smooth-running vehicle is an efficient battery. This means your battery should receive regular check-ups. Don’t worry, it’s only a simple cleaning every few months to prevent frustrating battery problems.   

Remove the battery terminals. Again, if you’re stuck, follow the guidelines in the owner’s manual. Always remove the negative cable first.

Clean the posts with a wire brush and a generous amount of cleaning solution. We recommend using a professional cleaning product from your local auto parts store to help remove heavy corrosion from the connectors. If you’re not dealing with extensive corrosion, a mixture of baking soda and water would adequately do the job.

When you’re finished, rinse with water, dry the posts with cloths, and replace the battery terminals. Make sure that all cable connections are properly tightened. Otherwise, a weak electrical connection may not enable your car to start.

 

Improper maintenance on your vehicle not only costs you money, but it can also cause huge interruptions in your already busy schedule. In addition, it’s dangerous to drive a poorly-kept vehicle.

These DIY projects are much simpler than you might have expected. Not to mention, you can have lots of fun during the process. Twenty minutes to half an hour is all it takes to care for your beloved car and keep you safe on the road.

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9 All-American Road Trips You Should Take in 2017

american road trip

What’s more fun than a road trip? A road trip across the U.S., that’s what. With countless routes to drive and stunning sights to see, our great nation is the perfect place to let your hair down and get your drive on.

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Luckily, you don’t need a year-round vacation or even a hefty bank account to have an awesome road trip in the U.S. If you want to see the best of America, here are the top 9 routes you should add to your “must see” list.  

1. Beartooth Highway

Route: Red Lodge, MT to Cooke City, MT

You might want to steer clear of Beartooth Highway from October to May, since it’s snowed in around that time. Otherwise, this 68-mile section on U.S. Highway 212 is a great place to drive across northern Wyoming and see stunning sights like tundras, snow-covered mountains, and flower-infested meadows. Also, pull off the road and stop at the Custer National Forest, the Shoshone National Forest, or Yellowstone National Park to find a few relaxing places to stay.

2. Blue Ridge Parkway

Route: Skyline Drive, VA to U.S. Route 441, NC

If you’re a serious road tripper, you can’t miss this one. Stretching 469 miles across 29 counties, the Blue Ridge Parkway boasts more curves than your grandma’s hair after removing her rollers and is studded with lots of former Civil War battle sites. Considering how long Blue Ridge is, you’ll want to allow at least two days to travel (though some people claim they can finish the route in one day).  

3. Cherohala Skyway

Route: Tellico Plains, TN to Robbinsville, NC

Cherohala was named after two national forests: Cherokee (“Chero”) and Nantahala (“hala”). The skyway snakes 43 miles from Tennessee to North Carolina and ranges from 900 to 5,400 feet above sea level.

Because of its many winding curves, Cherohala isn’t a road you want to drive during winter. But when the weather is good, Cherohala offers gorgeous views of natural landscapes as well as recreational areas where you can sit back, relax, and chill out.

4. Going-to-the-Sun Road

Route: Across the width of Glacier National Park, MT

Since it only runs through one national park, Going-to-the-Sun doesn’t have much variety in terms of scenery. But it does have more twists and turns than a whodunit novel and is usually open by late June or early July. This 50-mile road is often covered in snow that takes 10 weeks to plow, so make sure to check the weather before you go.

5. Pig Trail Scenic Byway

Route: Arkansas 23 (southern boundary of the Ozark National Forest) to Arkansas 16 (Brashears, Madison County)

No one really knows why this 130-mile pass is called “Pig Trail.” Some say it’s named after the University of Arkansas football team, which has a wild boar on its logo. Others suggest that the trail curves like a pig’s tail (in which case it should’ve probably been named “Pig’s Tail”).

At any rate, if you like driving through dense foliage, Victorian towns, and camping sites, Pig Trail will set you on the right track, pun intended.

6. San Juan Mountain Skyway

Route: Starts from Durango, CO, and follows U.S. Highway 160, State Highway 145, State Highway 62, and U.S. Highway 550 before looping back to Durango

You can’t get more American than this road, literally. Designated as an “All-American Road” by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in 1996, the San Juan Mountain Skyway covers an incredible 236 miles inside Colorado. The road is dotted with picturesque towns, alpine mountains, and other breathtaking sights, making the 6-hour ride worth it.  

7. Tail of the Dragon/Deals Gap

Route: Eleven miles along U.S. Route 129, on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee

Eleven miles might not sound like much, especially compared to the other trips on this list. But there’s a good reason — or rather, reasons — Tail of the Dragon was featured in movies like In Dreams, The Fugitive, Thunder Road, and Two-Lane Blacktop.

You see, like a soap opera, the Dragon has a jaw-dropping 318 twists and turns. Many of them curve so sharply that drivers all over the country use this 11-mile road to test their cornering skills. There’s even a “Tree of Shame” where those who’ve failed to conquer the Dragon leave parts of their motorcycle. If you want to see the tree or enjoy the scenery provided by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, book your visit on an off-peak date.

8. Three Sisters/Twisted Sisters

Route: From Medina, TX, go west on Ranch Road (RR) 337 and stop at Leakey. From there, get on RR336 and RR335, tp loop back to Leakey

“Three Sisters” is the nickname for Ranch Roads 335, 336, and 337. While they’re not as hard to drive on as Tail of the Dragon, the Three Sisters aren’t for newbie drivers, either.

Covering 100 miles, the Three Sisters take you through winding roads along Texas’ hills, valleys, and ranches. On a map, the route looks like a lasso thrown westward, so if you get confused about where to go next, just remember the lasso!

9. Tunnel of Trees Road

Route: Harbor Springs to Cross Village (along the northern coast of Michigan)

Along M-119, from Harbor Springs onwards, lies the 16-mile Tunnel of Trees. Lined with foliage that changes color according to the seasons, the Tunnel of Trees is especially gorgeous in the spring and fall. Since it borders Lake Michigan, the route also offers spectacular freshwater views.

Aside from beautiful scenery, the Tunnel of Trees is also a treat for history lovers. If you drop by the Scenic Heritage Route, you can have a glimpse of what it was like to live as an Ottawan Indian, logger, trader, and trapper. You can also visit other attractions like the Pond Hill Farm, the Thorne Swift Nature Preserve, and more.  

 

No need to stress over your next vacation. Just keep these routes in mind and you’ll have a road trip planned that will be a ride of fun, no matter which you choose. Enjoy your drive!

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5 Sci-Fi Vehicles We Wish Were Real

sci-fi vehicles

Remember the last time you saw a cool, futuristic machine and wished you could own one…  but then reality hit and you realized that such powerful technology was only an imaginary product of a scriptwriter?

The downside of watching sci-fi movies is that we ultimately have to wake up from the amazing world of fiction. That said, this doesn’t stop any of us from dreaming about experiencing such epic technological gadgets, be it a time machine, a hoverboard, or Iron Man’s suit of armor.

Vehicles play a big part in the Municibid community and this week, we’ve gathered a list of the coolest sci-fi vehicles that, sadly, have only been portrayed in fictional works.  

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1. The DeLorean from Back to the Future

 

Time travel – the idea alone makes us feel adventurous! Who wouldn’t love to have the power to go back and forth in time to make sense of history and the future?

If you don’t know the story, the DeLorean turns into a time machine when it hits 88 miles per hour. It took nearly 30 years for the eccentric and ingenious Dr. Brown to fulfill his grand vision. Building the machine cost him his entire family fortune. The stainless steel construction of the vehicle allowed the “flux capacitor” to operate at an optimum level, ensuring a smooth passage through the time and space continuum for its passengers.

The DeLorean DMC-12 was a real car model – the brainchild of John Z. DeLorean, an automotive engineer who founded his own business, DeLorean Motor Company, in 1974 after his time as a former executive at General Motors.   

If you want to see this awesome vehicle in real life, it’s on display permanently at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.

2. Iron Man’s Armor

 

Iron Man’s red and gold iconic armor is one of the most recognizable superhero costumes. Similar to the idea of a jetpack which emerged from science fiction in the 1960s (and has become a real thing, though a rather expensive recreational activity), Iron Man’s armor takes things to the next level.

Granted, Tony Stark created different Iron Man suits for specific purposes and various conditions. However, they all share the same basic gadgets and are made of extremely strong materials.

Stark’s creation is not simply a flying machine, but rather a powered exoskeleton – an extension of his own bones and muscles – which allows for a robust combination of limb movements and strength enhancement. It not only provides a self-contained environment to protect his body but it also boosts his physical power.

In the movies, Stark’s powered exoskeleton is of great interest to the military to use in war zones and other dangerous situations.

We may not be far off from seeing something like the Iron Man suit in real life. Though still in development and being yet unable to fly, the suit of the future will be an impressive achievement.

3. Teleportation Transporters from Star Trek

 

The teleportation transporter in the film Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) is absolutely mind-boggling. This fictional machine can take people and objects from one location to another within seconds by converting them into an energy pattern and “beaming” them to a destination where they are re-materialized.

With the teleportation transporter, you can get to wherever you wish to go – no more traveling hassles like dreadful morning commutes or tedious airport security checks. It would be the ultimate vehicle to create a true dream vacation: you could have a Turkish breakfast in Istanbul, sushi for lunch in Tokyo, and pizza made in Rome for dinner.

4. The Batmobile from the Batman Movies

 

Every Batman fan adores the Batmobile and we’ve got to agree: this iconic, jaw-droppingly cool and sensational vehicle deserves a spot on our list. From comic books to its film adaptations, the Batmobile never fails to impress (and intimidate!).

The design of Batman’s personal state-of-the-art, self-powered automobile has evolved over the years with a great number of different illustration styles. A Batmobile can deviate from practical and conservative to sleek and outlandish. However, they all aim to enforce a sense of seriousness and ultimate power while beautifully complementing Batman’s intellect and indomitable will.    

Here’s a bit of fun trivia: the original 1966 Batmobile was built from a 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura concept car. The 1989 Batman film used the frame of a Chevy Impala, while in The Dark Knight trilogy, Christopher Nolan used the frame from a P-38 Lightning plane.

Yet before the Batmobile was introduced on screens and became popular amongst viewers, the very first licensed Batmobile was built in 1963 by Forrest Robinson, a Batman fan. Although the car was used for promotions, it was lost and forgotten and didn’t resurface again until 2008. It was then restored for an auction and sold for $137,000 in 2014.

5. The Gigahorse from Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road has some of the most bada** sci-fi vehicles. Once you see them, they stay in your mind. Fit for a king of the desert, the Gigahorse is truly one-of-a-kind.

Built on a custom frame, the body of the Gigahorse was made by splitting, widening, lengthening, and stacking two 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Villes together. This allowed the vehicle to house two V16 engines equipped with real superchargers and fake turbos. The front and rear wheels used tractor tires. Since the entire Gigahorse was custom-made, the crew had to create their own wheel rims. It took 2 months for the team to make this beastly machine operational and their effort was totally worth it.           

Check out this video for a little glimpse into all the vehicles from the Mad Max film.

 

 

There is no doubt that technology has changed our lives. Though many imaginary, only-available-in-movies cars and gadgets seem somewhat out of reach, it’s through the fantastic worlds of sci-fi and imagination that we find the inspiration to explore further and to innovate.

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Make the Most of Your Fuel Tank: Stretch Your Time Between Fill-Ups

fuel efficiency

Fuel is expensive and keeping up with the price is like riding a roller coaster. Do you remember the first time the price of gas hit $4 per gallon? Though things have been calmer (and more affordable) in recent years, according to GasBuddy, the average gas price is expected to spike to $2.49 per gallon in 2017. That’s 36 cents higher than last year’s average.

None of us want fuel costs to skyrocket. What’s more, many of us are becoming more conscious of the impact our driving has on the environment.

Replacing your vehicle with an electric or hybrid model might simply be impractical for you and your family, if not extremely difficult. However, there are other ways to make the most of your gas mileage and minimize your driving emissions. Read on to find out how you can optimize every single drop of fuel in your tank.  

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1. Maintain your vehicle regularly.

We all understand the impact proper maintenance has on the performance of a vehicle, but did you know that a poorly maintained car can burn up to 20% more fuel?

Make sure your vehicle gets regular check-ups so it is rolling smoothly. Don’t skip or delay oil changes. Underinflated or overinflated car tires are not only fuel inefficient but also dangerous. The same goes for bad wheel alignment and dirty air filters. These are small fixes but they make a significant difference.

2. Invest in a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

If you want to replace your current vehicle, consider a high MPG car, even if it is used. You may be able to save a significant amount of money.

Do your research carefully. Consumer Reports has put together a fantastic list of the best and worst cars based on fuel economy. This will help you get a better picture of which vehicle you should aim for based on the typical amount of driving you do.

3. Pick the best time to buy gas.

You may have heard a rumor suggesting it’s better to fill up in early mornings or late evenings when the weather is cooler. Indeed, there is a science behind this seemingly nonsense story.

Like other liquids, gasoline expands when it warms. When the weather is hot, fuel’s volume will increase and the density of the fuel concentration (which measures the heaviness of an object or substance) will decrease. Gas pumps measure the volume of gasoline being pumped into a tank, not the density, ultimately meaning you’re paying more for less gas when the weather is at its warmest.

So, it makes sense to choose the coolest times of day to fill up, right? Unfortunately, that’s still not quite the entire picture. In reality, fuel is usually stored underground, where there is a slight temperature variation. As a result, colder temperatures won’t make a major difference to your wallet. A few cents of difference is frankly not enough to justify changing your schedule and altering your routine.

That said, there is a day of the week worth the wait – Wednesday. Service stations often raise fuel prices on the weekends. Statistically, Wednesdays are the best days for the cheapest gas prices.

4. Watch out at gas pumps.

After the pump shuts off, many people tend to take the hose out immediately. A lot of gasoline is wasted because of this simple misdeed. Keep the hose in the tank a little longer. Remember, you paid for it – make sure you get the last drops of fuel into your tank. Afterward, properly seal your gas cap.    

Avoid overfilling your tank. Have some faith in the auto shutoff. We cannot stress this enough – adding more gas into a full tank is a disaster.

The excessive gas will flow into your charcoal canister or carbon filter, which is only responsible for evaporation. The consequences include poor performance, a potentially damaged engine, and expensive costs to replace the affected areas. In addition, a broken carbon filter and extra gas spilled on the ground are nothing but detrimental to the environment and people’s health.

5. Always think one step ahead.

Rush hour is not good for your gas mileage. Scheduling your trips in advance, if possible, will not only allow you to avoid bad traffic but also shorten your commute time.

Optimize your rounds. Instead of making multiple trips and going back and forth, try combining them all into one. Taking several short trips requires the car engine to cold-start every time, which is a big waste of gas. Not to mention, it is also unproductive.

6. Avoid overloading your vehicle.

Think twice about what you definitely need for your journey. Try not to stuff your vehicle with unnecessary objects. An extra 100 pounds can reduce your fuel efficiency by around 2%, especially during acceleration. Ditch everything that might become an excessive drag for your vehicle – it simply wastes fuel.

7. Drive steadily when possible.

An essential part of achieving fuel efficiency is to drive at a constant moderate speed. This is not only more relaxing for you and your passengers, but it is also safer and better for your vehicle. Accelerating too quickly and driving aggressively cause strain to your car, limiting fuel economy. The same thing applies to slowly crawling up to speed.

If you’re driving through the city, this can be tough. Stop-and-go traffic (whether it’s rush hour or not) just isn’t good for fuel efficiency or the life of your vehicle.

A good rule of thumb is to get to 50 MPH within 15-20 seconds. Once you get up to this speed, keep a consistent pace. If you struggle to maintain a steady speed, use cruise control. However, do not use cruise control when driving through especially hilly or mountainous areas. You will waste a lot of gas downshifting to lower gears in order to match the speed you have set.

 

Though it can be challenging, there are still some things you can do to improve your fuel efficiency. Start implementing these tips into your driving routine and you’ll soon be adding a few extra pennies into your own pocket.

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Truck Financing 101: How to Do It (Even If You Have Bad Credit)

truck financing

You’ve been eyeing that truck for a while now. It’s big, beautiful, and everything you’ve ever wanted in a vehicle — until you saw the price tag, that is.

Now, price wouldn’t be a problem if you were Bill Gates or if you had a spanking clean credit history. But if you have a spotty track record as a borrower or you don’t have much cash under your belt, you’re going to have to work a little harder to get a truck loan. To get the biggest amount of money for the least amount of trouble, here’s what you can do.

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1. Take a good look at your finances.

Most people shop for a truck before they shop for truck financing. We suggest you do it the other way around for the simple reason that truck prices are unlimited but your budget isn’t.

If you shop around without knowing how much you can afford first, you might be tempted to take the most expensive option right off the bat, thinking that price equals quality. But if you set a price range and you stick to that range no matter what, it’s easier to narrow down your options to the trucks that serve your needs and are easier on your bank account.

So what does “easy on your bank account” mean? To calculate the highest amount you can realistically afford to pay per month, you need to know:

  • Your monthly income before taxes. How much do you earn every month before taxes are deducted?
  • Your trade-in value. If you have a vehicle that you can swap for the truck at a dealership, how much will the dealer pay for it?

Assuming you haven’t taken out a loan yet, you can take the two values above, plug them into the appropriate fields in this car affordability calculator, set the other fields to zero, and presto! You’ll have a rough estimate of the price range within your reach if you’re able to pay in cash.

If you’re going to pay for your truck entirely via credit, we’ll get to that in a bit.

2. Get your business paperwork together.

If you’re buying a truck for personal use, you can skip this section. Otherwise, if the truck is for commercial or business use, you’ll have to submit proof of business paperwork. The “proof” depends on what type of business you have. For example:

  • If you have an old sole proprietorship/partnership (that is, your business has been running for at least a year), you can submit your IRS Schedule C as a sole proprietorship with at least one year of income or an IRS Schedule K-1 as a partnership.
  • If you run an LLC or corporation, you simply have to print out a record of your business from your state’s Secretary of State website. The lender can also double-check by looking up your record online.

Aside from proof of business, you might have to submit other documents to show that you have the ability and authority to pay off your loan. For example, if you’re an owner-operator, the lender might ask for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Number, and a Motor Carrier (MC) Number. Even if the lender doesn’t specifically ask for these, you never know when they might come in handy in the future.

3. Choose the truck you want to finance.

Lenders won’t just finance any truck. They’ll also look at whether it’s new or used, whether it’s a dump truck or a semi, and whether the truck is worth the loan they’ll be handing out. You can try to remember all of this or you can put yourself in the lender’s shoes: If you were them, would you finance the truck you have in mind?

Of course, money shouldn’t be your only consideration. You should also look at the size of the truck, how much mileage it has (if it’s used), how fuel-efficient it is (since gas is a regular expense for any vehicle), and other features that’ll affect how you use it. For a better idea on what you’ll be shopping for, check out our post on the different types of trucks.      

4. Work out your down payment.

It’s hard to pin down an exact answer to “How much will my down payment be?” However, there are a few factors guaranteed to bump up your initial expenses.  

  • You’re a new business. New business owners don’t have consistent cash flows yet, so they’re considered credit risks.
  • You’re an owner-operator. Owner-operators usually own just one truck. If that one truck goes down, so does the owner-operator’s ability to pay off their loans.
  • You’re buying from a private party. Since private party transactions aren’t as structured and secure as dealer transactions, lenders find them harder to verify and therefore, riskier.
  • You’re buying an old truck. The older the vehicle, the more likely it is to break down and incur additional, unnecessary costs.
  • You have low cash reserves. Pretty self-explanatory.

Luckily, these factors can offset each other. For example, if you have a low credit score but your business has been going strong for at least 2 years, your down payment will be lower than that of a person who has poor credit and has been in business for less than a year. If you want an exact figure, read this guide on how big your down payment should be.  

5. Work out your monthly payments.

At this point, you already know:

  • The price — or price range — of the truck you want to buy.
  • The trade-in value of your existing vehicle (if applicable).
  • The amount you can afford to pay every month.
  • How much of a down payment you can afford.

Given these figures, how much will you pay every month?

The answer is… it depends. If you already have an interest rate and principal amount on hand, you can plug them into this truck financing calculator — along with the details above — and have a rough estimate of your monthly payments. In the event that the monthly payments are higher than what you can afford to pay, look for another loan with different terms.    

6. Find a good financing company.

The good news is that there are plenty of places where you can get a truck loan. For example, you can work with local banks, national banks, credit unions, online lenders, and dealers.

In general, the bigger the company, the stricter their lending requirements. If you have bad credit, you might find it difficult to borrow from places like banks and credit unions. But if your credit history is good, those places are pretty reliable sources for truck financing.

On the flip side, online lenders and dealers are more willing to take you on even if you have bad credit. However, these lenders also charge higher interest rates and have other hidden fees bundled into their loans to compensate for the added risk they take. In the end, you have to decide whether you should improve your credit score first to borrow from more prestigious institutions or take on a loan from seedier sources now and pay a higher price later.

 

Truck financing doesn’t have to be a headache. If you’re willing to shop around and don’t mind doing a little number crunching, your dream truck will be within reach.

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5 Awesome Vehicle Upcycles You Have to See to Believe

vehicle upcycle

Upcycling is all the rage in interior design, landscaping, and sometimes, even in fashion. Visionaries are taking existing pieces and repurposing them into something new.

Today, many people are getting in on the refurbishing trend by taking salvage pieces or entire old vehicles and repurposing them by giving them a completely new look and life.

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Here are 5 unique vehicle conversions that take upcycling to a new level.

1. A School Bus Into a Mobile Cabin

If you’re going to convert any type of used vehicle, an old school bus is an awesome canvas to start with. That’s what Hank Butitta chose to begin his final dissertation project. He succeeded in converting a school bus into his very own mobile cabin.

Butitta set out with a creative vision and a $3,000 retired school bus. He gutted the inside and replaced the seats with a simple, modular interior that acted as a compartmented living space. He then created dedicated bathroom and kitchen areas. Butitta also set up two other spaces that can be reconfigured depending on the number of people on board.

In the seating area, tables and chairs can be set up for eating. When this space is not needed, they can be folded away. Overnight guests can be accommodated in the same space as the table also converts into a queen bed.

The main sleeping area is at the rear of the bus, which also has varying setup options. Guests can sleep on two twin beds or push the beds together to expand into a queen. While this space is great as a small cabin, it’s also still completely operational as a vehicle and transports Butitta and his friends around the country.

 

2. An REO Speedwagon Into a Pizza Food Truck

Restaurants and food truck connoisseurs are standing out and taking their industry by storm as they repurpose vintage vehicles and convert them into incredible mobile food trucks and catering businesses. Classic vehicle conversions give these foodies a new type of brand identity and electrifying differentiation among their competitors.

One such company is Nomad Pizza, a pizza chain based in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They’ve put their catering business on the radar with a stunning refurbishment of a 1940s REO Speedwagon as their mobile pizza truck.

At the heart of the truck is a classic wood-burning brick pizza oven that churns out fresh, organic Neapolitan-style pizza. Nomad also installed professional-grade restaurant equipment in the truck, including a refrigerator, two sinks, a hot water system, prep tables, and more. Today, the truck is the centerpiece of their thriving catering business.

3. A Mass Transit Vehicle Into a Mobile Tech Classroom

City buses also make great vehicle conversion projects, which is exactly what Alex Jacobson and Ryan Kalb discovered when they purchased a mass transit bus for an ambitious project. Jacobson and Kalb, both computer and electrical engineering students at Oregon State University, agreed on an idea to convert a city bus into a mobile tech classroom.

Thanks to the spacious nature of city buses, the team has a ton of options on how best to equip their mobile classroom. Jacobson and Kalb started their project by removing all traces of the bus’s seating and former life from its interior, creating a fresh, blank canvas. They’ve been working on adding components to their mobile tech classroom, like video screens, monitors, and networking capabilities.

They initially began the project to help promote education in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – or STEM – fields. The idea is that with a mobile tech classroom, the team can bring digital resources to schools and districts that may not have the supplies or capabilities to further their students’ tech skills. When complete, the bus will bring learning for the 21st century to schools all throughout Oregon.

STEM bus

To learn more about Project M.E.L., follow them on Facebook.

4. An Ambulance Into a Travel Camper

Their dream of creating a travel camper with a unique, vintage look became a reality when the Lindner family bought an old ambulance on eBay. After completely stripping the truck of its original interior, the Lindners went to work, creating a living space they could take with them on the road.

The vehicle’s classic 1960’s-style exterior was preserved and incorporated into the completed camper van’s interior furnishings. Chic white paneling was installed throughout the inside of the van, giving the living space a fresh look.

Seating benches in natural wood and pale blue were added to accommodate the family’s 4 children. Thanks to the van’s former working life as an ambulance, there is plenty of room for adults to move around inside the living quarters.

The family plans to take their new rig to various caravan parks throughout the UK.

 

 

5. A Fire Truck to a Rugged RV

Off-roading enthusiast Jan van Haandel was searching for a way to exercise his passion for adventure with a recreational vehicle or mobile home. When he couldn’t find what he was looking for, he decided to create it. His solution? He purchased an old fire truck in his native Netherlands and began an ambitious project to design a perfect off-roading RV.

The truck had plenty of space and unlimited potential for an interesting vehicle upcycle project. Van Haandel started by removing the truck box and replacing it with one of his own design. He then added a bathroom, a water system, a working kitchen, a dining area, an entertainment center, and a sleeping space.

Once his truck conversion was done, he could finally satisfy his craving for comfortable off-roading with his one-of-a-kind RV.

 

 

A vehicle upcycle project is a great way to show off your imagination and take your ideas to the next level. All you need is a vision and a solid, working used vehicle to get started on making your dreams come true.

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Harley-Davidson Through the Years

Harley-Davidson history

If there’s one motorcycle brand that’s unmistakably American, it’s Harley-Davidson. Despite the Great Depression, economic crises, and numerous restructurings, the iconic company has managed to survive and pump out motorcycles that attract loyal fans the world over. Even in this age of outsourcing, Harley-Davidson is notable for manufacturing its bikes domestically, with only two assembly plants located outside the U.S.

Like most success stories, Harley-Davidson had humble beginnings. In this rundown through the years, we’ll look at how a backyard enterprise of 3 young men became a motorcycle giant.

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Beginnings

When William S. Harley was 20 years old, he decided to build a motorbike powerful enough to climb the hills of Milwaukee. With the help of brothers Arthur and Walter Davidson, Harley worked on his bike for two years until it was completed in 1903. After they tested it, however, they found the bike needed more pedal pushing from the rider than they felt necessary, and the model was scrapped.

At the time, Harley and the Davidson brothers were only one of many small motorcycle producers. Among these producers was the Indian Motorcycle Company, which would later become Harley-Davidson’s biggest competitor.

To stay ahead of the curve, Harley and the Davidson brothers constantly refined their bikes. By 1904, the men produced 8 motorcycles, which doubled to 16 in 1905, and jumped up to 50 in 1906. From this, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company was born.

In 1907, Harley-Davidson introduced the V-Twin motor, which would eventually become the company’s trademark. The first V-Twin motors essentially doubled the power of Harley-Davidson’s early bikes, though it was later pulled out due to several issues. Four years later, an improved version of the V-Twin was launched. Although it was smaller, it performed better than its predecessor.

 

Harley-Davidson history

Courtesy of Arild Vågen

 

Between 1910 and 1930, Harley-Davidson pioneered several innovations to strengthen its lineup, including clutches, chain drives, two-speed rear hubs, and three-speed transmissions. By 1914, the company outstripped Indian in the production of racing units, and within 6 years, Harley-Davidson became the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer.

The Depression

In 1931, Harley-Davidson launched the Model D, one of the first Harleys to have a flathead V-Twin engine. The engine was so versatile, it stayed in production until the 1970s. Although flatheads were initially less efficient, they were also easier to maintain, and eventually became just as powerful as overhead-valve and F-head configurations.

 

Harley-Davidson history

Courtesy of Lars-Göran Lindgren Sweden

 

Unfortunately, Harley-Davidson hit a roadblock during the Great Depression when sales fell from around 20,000 in 1929 to a little over 3,700 in 1933. Competitors went bankrupt one by one, but Harley-Davidson used it as an opportunity to cater to clients looking for new motorcycles. Along with Indian, Harley-Davidson was one of only two motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Depression era.

Realizing they had to do more to stay competitive, Harley-Davidson introduced the 61 OHV motor in 1936. Better known as the “Knucklehead,” the 61 OHV’s valve covers resembled a boxer’s closed fists and lasted for only 12 years on the market. Still, the Knucklehead would become the basis for all the “Big Twins” in the years to come.

 

Harley-Davidson history

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

 

The War Years

Granted, “Big Twins” had been in Harley-Davidson’s production line years before the war. But when the company incorporated an overhead valve into its design, along with a 4-speed transmission and the tank-mounted instrument panel, the designations changed. The Big Twins became the U-series, and the Forty-fives became the W-series.

When World War II broke out, Harley-Davidson produced 88,000 military versions of the Forty-five, known as WLAs. They also created 1,000 units of flathead twins specially designed for desert use, though these never saw action on the battlefield.

 

Harley-Davidson history

Courtesy of Joost J. Bakker

 

The 1950s

As Harley-Davidson continued to update the Knucklehead and Big Twins, it also kept releasing new products into the market. The 1951 Police Special, for example, proved to be a hit with law enforcement agencies. The “Panhead” also debuted in 1948, as did the Hydra-Glides in 1949.

These technological innovations weren’t the biggest news at the time, however. In 1953, Harley’s closest competitor, Indian, finally ceased operations. Several companies would attempt to revive it in the succeeding decades, until Indian was finally bought out by Polaris Industries in 2011.

But Harley’s ride wasn’t smooth-sailing, either. Foreign competitors began to pour into the U.S. market and Harley-Davidson tried to keep up with innovations by introducing models like the S-125 two-stroke single, the 1952 K-series, and the Duo-Glide.

The 1960s – 1970s

As foreign motorcycle companies took up more and more of the U.S. market share, Harley-Davidson offered its stock publicly for the first time in 1965. A year later, the “Shovelhead” was introduced, replacing the “Panhead” and becoming the standard engine for Harleys until the 1980s.

Despite these efforts, Harley-Davidson still hemorrhaged cash. Even though the company eventually merged with sporting goods producer American Machine and Foundry (AMF), sales were still lackluster in the 1970s due to the presence of cheaper, better-quality Japanese motorcycles.  

The future wasn’t all bleak for Harley-Davidson, however. The FX Super Glide debuted in 1971, and while it wasn’t a resounding success, it inspired future motorbike models that Harley-Davidson still maintains in its lineup, such as the current FXD series.   

 

Harley-Davidson history

Courtesy of snobjs81

 

The 1980s – 1990s

When Harley-Davidson’s management realized that AMF was more of a liability than an asset, they bought back $75 million worth of shares from the company in 1981. Under the management of Harley executive Vaughn Beals, the company began to rehabilitate itself.

During the 1980s, Harley-Davidson ramped up efforts to fund product development and control quality. Additionally, the launch of the Evolution V2 (more popularly known as the “Evo”) in 1984 and the “Fat Boy” in 1990 proved to be a turning point in Harley-Davidson’s fortunes, as the latter would propel the company to the position of top motorcycle manufacturer in the world.  

Present

Harley-Davidson continues to innovate. For example, there’s the Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) motor, which became standard for all Harley motorcycles since the 2007 product line. Harley-Davidson also licenses and markets merchandise like clothes, home decor, accessories, toys, and even video games like Harley Davidson: Road Trip.

 

Harley-Davidson has come a long way. Although the secret to its mystique is hard to pin down, Harley’s resilience and ability to keep up with change make it the quintessential American brand. The company has survived more than a hundred years of setbacks and challenges, and it’ll likely survive for a hundred more.

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Understanding Truck Classification

truck classification

When you choose a truck, you don’t just pick the best-looking model from the lot. You also consider other factors, like the specs of the truck, the terrain it’s built to drive over, and the truck’s ability to do the job you have in mind.

Of a truck’s specs — whether you use it for home improvement or you’re hauling massive loads across the country — weight is one of the most important.

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Why Does a Truck’s Weight Matter?

Before you buy a truck, one of the first things you should check is the truck’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Simply put, the GVWR is how heavy the truck will be after it’s loaded with cargo, fuel, and passengers. Neither the truck’s appearance nor its technology (or lack thereof) factor into the GVWR. Only the truck’s total operating weight — that is, the truck’s weight while being used or driven on the road — counts.

So why all the fuss over weight? Here are the main reasons.

  • The US government regulates trucks according to weight. If a truck’s GVWR is more than 10,001 pounds, it needs to have a USDOT number so it can be tracked and inspected for safety’s sake. After all, most trucks travel on public roads and if anything happens because a truck is overloaded, responsibility needs to be assigned where responsibility is due.
  • If you drive a truck with a GVWR over 10,001 pounds, you need to follow all sorts of regulations to stay safe on the highway. For example, you should have your vehicle inspected at certain state stations along the road.  
  • Weight classes help you stay on the same page with truck dealers, repair crew, and other similar parties. If you take your vehicle to a service shop, it helps to know the difference between “light duty,” “medium duty,” and “heavy duty.” In case you add or replace any parts, you have to make sure those new parts won’t drastically affect the GVWR of your truck.

Types of Trucks

Officially, the government sorts trucks into 8 weight-based classes, although most people differentiate trucks according to whether they’re light, medium, or heavy duty. Since the government and common classes overlap, we’ll talk about both.

Light Duty

Class 1

Weight: 6,000 lbs. and lighter

Examples: Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Dodge Dakota, Toyota Tacoma

These are the smallest and lightest trucks. They’re not much use for towing or hauling, but if you’re a homeowner or do-it-yourselfer, Class 1 trucks will be enough for you. SUVs and small pickup trucks fall under this category, as do some types of cargo vans and minivans.

Class 2

Weight: 6,001 – 10,000 lbs.

Examples: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500, Dodge Ram 1500, Dodge Ram 2500, Ford F-150, Ford F-250, GMC Sierra 1500, Nissan Titan

Full-size or half-ton pickups are usually under Class 2. Class 2 trucks can haul between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds on their beds. Sometimes, this class is split into two more categories — Class 2a and 2b. Class 2a trucks have a GVWR of 6,001 to 8,500 pounds, while Class 2b trucks have a GVWR of 8,501 to 10,000 pounds.  

Class 3

Weight: 10,001 – 14,000 lbs.

Examples: Chevrolet Silverado 3500, Dodge Ram 3500, Ford E-350, Ford F-350, GMC Sierra 3500

If you have a heavy-duty pickup truck, chances are it’s a Class 3 truck. Class 3 trucks are often used for “work truck” jobs, “contractor truck” jobs, and the like. You can also put certain types of  walk-ins, city delivery trucks, and box trucks under this category.   

Medium Duty

Class 4

Weight: 14,001 – 16,000 lbs.

Examples: Dodge Ram 4500, Ford E-450, Ford F-450, GMC 4500

Of the medium duty trucks, Class 4 trucks are the lightest. You can spec them as you wish by adding “chassis cabs” to convert them into makeshift ambulances, box trucks, or wreckers. Bucket trucks, certain types of city delivery trucks, and large walk-ins belong to this category.  

Class 5

Weight: 16,001 – 19,500 lbs.

Examples: Dodge Ram 5500, Ford F-550, Freightliner M2 GMC 5500, International TerraStar

The job capabilities of Class 4 and Class 5 trucks tend to overlap a bit. Aside from Class 4 jobs, Class 5 trucks can also do construction and “fleet vehicle” work. This category includes all remaining bucket trucks, large walk-ins, and city delivery trucks.

Class 6

Weight: 19,501 – 26,000 lbs.

Examples: Chevrolet Kodiak (GMC TopKick) C6500, Ford F-650, Freightliner M2 106, International Durastar 4300

Beverage trucks, rack trucks, single-axle trucks, and school buses are some of the vehicles that fall under Class 6. They look and feel like Class 5 vehicles, except they can tow and haul heavier loads. In fact, you can spec Class 6 trucks to work almost as well as Class 7 and 8 vehicles.

Heavy Duty

Class 7

Weight: 26,001 – 33,000 lbs.

Examples: Ford F-750, GMC C7500, International WorkStar, Mack Granite

If you want to drive a Class 7 truck, you need a Class-B commercial driver’s license (CDL) as Class 7 drivers mostly work in heavy duty industries like construction, garbage collection, and livestock transportation. Vehicles under this category include tractors and city transit buses.

To get a CDL, visit your state’s DMV, ask for a Class-B CDL application form, and get ready for a written and a practical test. You will also be required to take a physical test (to make sure your eyes and ears are in good shape) every two years and be at least 21 years old to drive a commercial truck on interstate highways.    

Class 8

Weight: 33,001 lbs. and heavier

Examples: Tractor Trailer, 18-Wheelers

Of the trucks on this list, Class 8 trucks are one of the most common. Sleeper cabs, dump trucks, truck tractors, and cement trucks are examples of Class 8 vehicles.

Since Class 8 trucks are the biggest and heaviest of their kind, they require drivers to get a Class-A or Class-B CDL. Class-A CDLs are for combination vehicles like tractor-trailers, while Class-B CDLs are for non-combination vehicles.

There’s a lot of consideration that goes into buying a truck — there’s no doubt about that! By knowing what kind of jobs you intend to do and what kind of hauling, speed, and other capabilities you’ll need, you’ll be better able to choose the model and classification that’s right for you.

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